Sundance Film Festival has been synonymous with Park City for over 30 years. As the festival evolves each year, it's essential to keep up with the latest insights on ‘how to Sundance’ to make the most of your visit. I have had the pleasure of attending 9 Sundance Film Festivals and worked at Sundance Institute for nearly 7 years. Below are 7 tips for attending the festival and making the most out of your time here in Park City.
1. Have a Plan (Time Management)
Although Park City is a mountain town (with a fantastic team of snowplows prepared for heavy snowfall), during the festival, there is still a lot more traffic than usual, and not everyone on the road is used to driving on the snow. With heavy snowfall, expect your transportation to take a bit longer, and plan ahead to get where you need to be on time.
Plan your film selections ahead of time and know where the theater is located, not every theater is in Park City, and getting across town can take longer than you think. Have BACK UP FILM selections ready in case your first choice doesn’t work out. Also, most films will have a Q&A afterwards, so you may want to schedule extra time after each film.
While Park City’s Historic Main Street is the undisputed social center for pre- and post-movie entertainment, seasoned Sundance attendees know to seek out eating establishments located closer to the many screening locations throughout the area. It’s important to get to film screenings early, so dining AFTER a screening and near the theater is a great way to save time. Here are a few ideas:
- Redstone 7 theatre in Kimball Junction is located close to Red Rock Junction, Vessel Kitchen, Maxwell’s Pizza, Sushi Blue, Hearth and Hill, Ghidotti’s, and Park City’s Whole Foods Market. Additionally, Park City Coffee Roaster is a great option if your screening is in the morning.
- Eccles Theatre, on Kearns Boulevard, is located near Adolph’s, Alberto’s the Boneyard Saloon and Wine Dive, Blind Dog, and Grub Steak.
- Library Centre Theatre, located in the Park City Library, is within walking distance to Harvest, Butcher’s Chop House, High West Saloon, and Davanza’s.
- Ray Theatre, Holiday Village Cinemas, and Park Avenue Theatre (inside The DoubleTree by Hilton on Park Avenue) are centrally located near Squatters, Twisted Fern, Five5eeds, Wasatch Bagel & Grill, Fair Weather Natural Foods, Boneyard Saloon and Wine Dive, and Silver Star Café, which is just a short walk or bus ride away.
- Sundance Headquarters located inside the Park City Marriott on Sidewinder Drive, and the Prospector Theatre are both very near to Grub Steak, Freshies Lobster, Fuego Bistro & Pizzeria, Ganesh, Alberto’s, Chubasco Mexican Grill, Sammy’s Bistro, and Good Karma.
To check availability and for restaurant closings (for special events), check out the Park City Area Restaurant Association’s website.
2. Skip the Car Rental
I recommend booking an airport transfer from Salt Lake City International Airport, or utilize your hotel’s shuttle, and leave the driving to locals. Due to limited (and expensive) parking, I suggest you skip the rental car and utilize the city’s free transportation system and the Sundance's shuttle system during the festival. Also, it is not uncommon for people to get great advice while riding the shuttle. What I love about Sundance is that most people in town (and on the shuttle) are fellow moviegoers and will want to share any advice or recommendation for a film they just watched. It’s a great place to have a conversation about what is happening on the ground. So, I suggest you embrace the random conversations you will have on the shuttle and in line throughout the festival.
Park City itself is a very walkable town, though proper footwear (i.e., insulated and waterproof snow boots, or even hiking boots) is highly recommended.
For those of you who do not have an express pass and were not able to get a ticket in advance, there are tickets being released each day. However, my advice to you is to make sure you take advantage of the e-Waitlist. Learn the process and stay positive, it's incredibly common for those on the waitlist to get in. Many ticket holders will not have the benefit of my excellent advice and will therefore miss manage their time and miss their screening.
- Download the App and Register Now
- e-Waitlist is Cash Only
- Try for earlier films, many people will stay up late and miss morning screenings.
- Know the seating capacity of the theater, the larger the theater, the more chance of available seats for the waitlist.
Also, I've heard that the TBA’s at the end of the festival are usually available, and they are always award-winners, so even if you get to town late, you may be able to get one of those, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a great film!
4. Thank Volunteers
I know that many festival volunteers have been volunteering at the festival for YEARS. They are incredibly knowledgeable so, in addition to thanking them for their hard work, thank them again, as their advice will most likely improve your festival experience.
5. Off-Screen Events
Yes, you most likely came to see films, but off-screen events can be the highlight of your festival too. Make sure you look into the many off-screen events, there is bound to be something that interests you. In addition to the great programming of panels, I've always been a fan of the Music Café and the New Frontier Exhibitions.
6. Hit the Slopes
The Festival period is a great time to hit the slopes, as many of the guests in town are attending screenings. It is not uncommon to feel that you have the ski mountains completely to yourself during the ten-day festival. Choose from Park City’s two resorts – Deer Valley, which is a ski-only mountain (no snowboarding) and Park City Mountain, which offers the most lift-accessed terrain of any resorts in the USA (7,300 acres). Park City Mountain is accessible via its two base areas – Park City Base Area and Canyons Village – as well as by the Town Lift, which connects the resort directly to Historic Main Street.
7. The Basics
Park City sits roughly at 7000 feet altitude so you will want to bring the following:
- Water bottle to fill up OFTEN to stay hydrated.
- Lip balm
- Eye drops
Additionally here is some more information to help navigate the winter weather here in Park City.
Lastly, have a great time and don't forget to follow and tag @visitparkcity during your amazing trip!