Sundance Film Festival Tips

Experience Sundance Film Festival Like a Local

Every January, thousands gather for the ultimate Park City, Utah film festival. The Sundance Film Festival has been sharing groundbreaking new work since 1978, when it began as a way to promote independent films and bring film-making attention to the state of Utah. We’ve put together a few tips for making the most of the Sundance experience, like locals do.

Sundance Film Festival Tips

1. Purchase Tickets in Advance

Tickets, as well as film and event schedules and descriptions, go on sale and are announced in advance, usually starting in the fall. Passes and packages sell out quickly, so keep checking online to see what’s showing where and when. You’ll want to jump on tickets so you can start planning your visit. 

person on cell phone

2. Join the eWaitlist

Reserve a spot on the waitlist, without having to wait outside in the cold! The new, mobile-enabled check-in system helps ensure that festival goers have the chance to get into previously sold-out films. The eWaitlist also makes it possible for you to view and manage your check-in and see the likelihood of getting into a screening. Since nearly 15% of each audience is waitlist tickets, it’s worth a shot! You can even link to a friend’s account, so you can join the waitlist and see a film together. 

3. Stay and enjoy the Second Week

The first weekend of the festival is always very lively! Park City is busy with premieres, celebrities, and parties, and the streets, sidewalks, restaurants, and bars are packed. It’s fun for sure, but so is the second half of the festival. Yes, you may miss some star-gazing, but the crowds are smaller, the vibe is more casual, and events are more accessible. Plus, you’ll still find cast members and production crews that stick around to do the post-show audience Q&As. 

person skiing kicking snow

4. Take in Early Morning Shows Followed by an Afternoon on the Slopes 

Stop by a Sundance box office to get tickets for morning shows. The party crowd will still be in bed during the 8 AM viewings, so your chances are pretty good to score tickets for these lower-demand showtimes. Then, after lunch, take a few turns on the ski slopes while the rest of the Sundancers are just starting to migrate to their venues. The ski resorts are refreshingly less crowded and ski conditions are usually perfect.

5. Participate Without Participating

There are so many fun events taking place during Sundance besides the movies. For one thing, the people-watching is phenomenal. A stroll on Main Street is bound to reveal a celebrity or two—be on the lookout for reporters with cameras and microphones to see who they’re interviewing! Many of the pop-up activations are open to the public, as well, with samples of their products, interactive activities (think VR shorts), and comfy places to warm up or charge your phone. There are lots of film panels, concerts, sponsor lounges, and artistic installations, not to mention the offshoot events, like Slamdance Film Festival. Simply wander around Main Street and pop in to explore all the cool activities. 

condo living room with fireplace

6.How to Do Sundance on a Budget  

There are lots of ways to save money and have fun while in Park City for Sundance. Here are a few ideas:

  • Share a condo or private home with friends.

  • Book your lodging on the free town shuttle bus route so you don’t need a car.

  • Dine-in at your condo with fresh fare purchased at All Seasons Grocery.  

  • Bring food with you—nosh in line to make the time pass quickly. Enjoy a tasty treat from these quick and delicious purveyors: 

    • If your screening is in Prospector, grab a slice at Este Pizzeria or a sandwich and snack from Fairweather.

    • Atticus is handy for Main Street venues and they open before the first viewings in the morning. 

    • Kimball Junction show-goers can get a healthy bowl or flatbread taco at Vessel Kitchen.

7. Boots are Your Best Friend 

Seriously, your life will be so much better if you have warm, dry feet. Make sure you have well-fitting, waterproof boots with good tread for navigating the snowy/slushy/muddy streets in comfort, stability, and style. You can find lots of great options at Jans and Tanger Outlets. Here are some other ways to stay warm and comfortable: 

  • Pick up some hand and boot warmers at the check-out stands at grocery stores before you queue up for your movie. 

  • Dress in layers—theaters are generally kept at comfortable temperatures, but outside  it can range from moderate to very cold. 

  • Drink lots of water at our higher, dryer elevation—if you find yourself thirsty you’re on your way to dehydration. Bring a reusable water bottle; water stations are readily available for refills. And, as always, wear sunscreen on exposed skin.

ski in ski out kitchen and dining

Park City Lodging Near Sundance Film Festival

Experience Park City like a local by staying in a vacation rental home. Let Park City Lodging help you craft the perfect stay packed with all your must-do Sundance activities. Contact us to book your stay today.

Published on Saturday, January 12, 2019