Image source: Visit Park City
Every winter, the Utah mountain resort town of Park City becomes Hollywood Elevated for 11 days as filmmakers, actors, producers, and fans arrive from around the world for the Sundance Film Festival. While the focus is on films, it is a festival, which we all know means that there is much more than cinema happening.
Keep in mind, Sundance is an organized event with a fixed schedule and rules about who gets in where, but it's also a constantly evolving celebration, and if you just hang out and keep an eye out, you might be surprised at where you end up.
Here are six things to enjoy outside of the theatre, as well as quick advice on how to see shows if you arrive without tickets.
The acronym for "stuff we all get" is available by simply walking up and down Park City's very walkable Old Main Street during the day. Different festival sponsors are vying for attention by giving away everything from gloves and hats to free shots of vodka. The sponsors rent out stores and restaurants along Main and set up shop. You'll find most of them just by strolling by, but stop by Sundance House at the Kimball Art Center (conveniently located just yards off of Main Street at 638 Park Ave.) to get the lowdown on where and when the days' best deals are happening. The swaggiest time of the festival is the first weekend.
Just as the sponsors set up their own places along Main, various film societies and groups also set up what are known as houses, or lodges such as the AirBnB house, Chase Sapphire Lounge, or the New York Film Commission Hub. Some have giveaways, or you may come across coffee, bagels, and other munchies to get you through the day. Many have public events that might feature a star or director you'd like to see, or host a dinner.
The best advice for getting a glimpse of Hollywood royalty is simply to walk up and down Main, and hurry over when you see a crowd forming, since the paparazzi are always out in full force. Another option is to check out when and where various festival seminars are taking place and who might be showing up there.
New Frontier Exhibition
Also located on Old Main Street (573 Main St.), this experience has a number of multi-media and interactive projects that show where film may be going in the future. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
This can be anything from an acoustic set during the afternoon in a festival venue to a full-blown concert or dance party at midnight in a local saloon someone has rented out for the night. Sundance runs the ASCAP Music Cafe (751 Main St.) that features afternoon concerts, but it is generally only open to festival credential holders. The best way to find out who is playing where that day is to simply ask around.
OK, this might fall under the "duh" category, but the fact is, with everybody experiencing the films and the festival, the 11 days of Sundance are actually a great time to get on slopes that are less crowded than usual at three world-class resorts.
No Tickets? No Problem!
The best way to see the movies is to get tickets well ahead of time. If you didn't get around to it, you can still show up in Park City and find a way into the films. Just register for the eWaitlist on the Sundance Web site. You can even link up accounts with friends. At two hours before show time, you register and get a waitlist number. You then show up 30 minutes before screen time with $15 cash and see if you get in. Your chances increase with the size of the theatre and if the screening isn't at a peak time.
Park City in late January is the perfect place for a cinephile, but it's also an excellent place for anyone who is in search of a good time outside the theatre.
What is your favorite festival destination?