Miami is known for going big in everything that involves events or celebrations. Every once in a while, though, it’s nice to take the break and get to actually experience something intimate, high-quality, and profound. That’s how we feel about GroundUP Music Festival, returning to the North Beach Bandshell on February 8th – 10th for the third year in a row. While the artists might not be easily recognizable by name, their musical prowess is among the very top level of skill ever. Snarky Puppy, the host band, alone has nabbed a handful of GRAMMYs in recent years, and the fact that they’ve chosen our crazy neck of the woods to host their yearly musical celebration is quite the honor. So in case it’s your first time or you might still be on the fence, here’s our guide to one of the best weekends you’ll have all year:

Open your ears to something new.

Before you even make your way to the festival, we suggest getting acquainted with the eclectic lineup and taking a deep dive into the many different sounds. Although you might know more mainstream names like Tank and The Bangas, David Crosby (Crosby, Stills, and Nash), and Andrew Bird, make sure to listen to the lesser known genres that will be gracing the stage so you come fully prepared to discover something entirely different. Listen to Richard Bona’s other-worldly voice, explore Bokanté’s authentic storytelling, and be swept away by the soothing strings of House of Waters.

Start the jams early.

The festival starts early in the day, which is great for those of us who like to fill our scheduled up and get ready for full days ahead. Usually, festivalgoers like to wait until peak times when they’re getting closer to the acts they’re excited to see. But whether you’re nursing a hangover or you’re waiting around for friends to get ready, we suggest you get there right when it starts at 12PM so you don’t miss a beat. You’ll catch masterclasses, rehearsals, soundcheck, and all the real magic you’re going there to experience with way less of a crowd.

Photo by Miami New Times.

Bring beach-friendly attire.

Obviously you know that the festival is on the beach, but did you know you can actually access the beach? There are even sandside jams and acapella rehearsals throughout the days. But other than sunscreen and a possible bathing suit, we mean also getting prepared to park up and just listen to the music in front of you. Bringing a chair or blanket to laze on the grass while catching a band or a comfortable seating option for inside the amphitheater are totally cool. And don’t forget to bring a water bottle to refill so you help keep the beach clean.

Photo by NPR.

Loosen that neck.

Before embarking on the mystical musical adventure that is the GroundUP Music Festival weekend, we highly suggest getting some neck stretches in. Partly because there’s a lot of dancing and walking and looking around, but mostly because Michael League on the bass of most of the acts on the lineup will get your neck banging real quick. The music throughout the weekend is, beyond doubt, some of the funkiest you’ll ever witness in Miami. It’s like if New Orleans’ Jazz Fest took a winter break and came down south for a few days. The three Snarky Puppy sets alone are enough to purchase a ticket for. Get ready to don that stink face.

Get your after party tickets.

While you might think that buying a ticket for the daily festival might be enough, think again. The afterparties are actually where it’s really at. Every night, the party continues at two simultaneous spots nearby where some exceptional artists who aren’t on the daily lineups have their chance to get funky. You might’ve Snarky Puppy every day, for example, but in the late night shows you’ll be able to catch each member in their element as they play with side projects, special guests, and super jams that will never happen again. What’s more, you’ll be so up close in personal, you might even be sitting next to some of your favorite musicians without even knowing it.

Photo by Shows I Go To.

Cover photo by Sean Fenlon.