Surviving Sundance

Unless you happen to be tight with some influential key grip’s nephew, it can be difficult to navigate the Sundance Film Festival. Without those sweet, sweet insider hookups, you’ll likely be stuck in line outside the exclusive screenings and hot, popup clubs Sundance is famous for. By following these tips, even those of us outside the Hollywood power vacuum can enjoy the spoils of Park City’s Biggest Little Film Festival.

What Do I Eat?

Let’s be blunt: Stay away from Main Street! Many restaurants in the center of the whirlwind are commandeered for private events. Others have waiting lines measured in eons. Either way, it’s likely your favorite spots may be verboten. Many great nearby options won’t be inundated, like Twisted Fern’s chic natural cuisine in the Snow Creek Shopping Center or Sammy’s Bistro’s high-class comfort food in Prospector. Even easier is to pick up some artisanal Italian food at Bartolos in Kimball Junction or elevated Mexican fare at Billy Blanco’s in Pinebrook before you head to the center of town.

Where Do I Drink?

$20 cover charges at dive bars are borderline offensive, especially when you can waltz in for free the other 50 weeks a year. Don’t succumb to temptation trying to rub elbows with big screen bigwigs. The Boneyard on SR 248 has the same idealized local/visitor melting pot vibe as its Main Street analog, No Name Saloon, and there’s a mirror image of O’Shucks Bar and Grill—schooners, peanuts and all—in Pinebrook that won’t be charging for entry. 

How Do I Get There?

Don’t drive into the heart of Sundance. The roads are a madhouse. The parking is exorbitantly expensive. Someone from L.A. who’s never driven in the snow is going to wreck your bumper with a rental car. Park City’s already robust bus system transforms into a well-oiled mass transit machine that leaves major metropolitan areas envious. Park at the new Ecker Hill park, take the frontage road west of Kimball Junction and enjoy the ride. The army of patient Sundance volunteers will help you get where you’re going with a smile on their faces.

What Movies Do I Watch?

Unless you bought a ticket package long before reading this article, you’re going to have to use the Sundance eWaitlist app to get your tickets. The app is pretty slick and it spares you from the tedious, freezing hellscape of in-person waiting lines of years past, but it’s still difficult to get into high-demand screenings. Shoot for late-night screenings—you’d be shocked how many Sundancers no-show after a few cocktails—or catch a film at the Festival’s excellent venues in Salt Lake City like the Tower Theatre at 9th and 9th or the Broadway on 300 South. 

For more articles on Sundance, click here.

Tony Gill
Tony Gill
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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