How to Sundance Film Festival Like a Local

How to Sundance Film Festival Like a Local

January 13, 2016

7 Park City Must-Do’s In Between Films

Locals have one word for the film festival that takes over their small mountain town for two weeks every winter: crazy. Whether you love the energy or despise the crowds, everyone agrees—it’s crazy. Whatever you want to do and experience during the Sundance Film Festival, the locals have figured out how to navigate the films, the panels, the food, the music, and the mountain. Here’s 7 ways to make the most of your Sundance Film Festival experience, from the locals:

1. Films One Day at a Time

You won’t see every film you’re hoping to see. You’re lucky to see one of the films you were hoping to get into. The locals are realistic about their chances, and embrace the fact that sometimes things go really quite wonderful when chance plays a starring role in your personal festival lineup. You might walk into a film you didn’t think twice about, and you can’t get the score out of your head. Or maybe you ended up seeing something rather awful, and you’ll be talking about how terrible it was for the rest of your life—you got a good story out of it, right?

Park City Main Street

That’s what locals love about the films at the festival: you never know what you’re going to get.

How to get individual tickets like a local--$20 a pop:

Day of Show Tickets: arrive at the Main Street box office every morning at 8:00 a.m. to snag whatever tickets are available.

eWaitlist Tickets: queue up online and show up at the theater 30 minutes before the show starts—if there’s anything available, you’re in for $20 (cash only).

2. Main Street Ski Lift

It’s going to happen. You’ll have hours and hours in between films, and you might as well ski the best snow on earth. Park City makes it easy with its Main Street ski lift. Hello, mountain town convenience! You can rent your gear at the resort or any local ski shop (allow one of our faves to hook you up, Aloha or Ski N See). And maybe you’ll go all out and buy that red Bogner one piece ski suit in a boutique on Main Street—but don’t—because the locals will mock you all the way down that black diamond you desperately need to nail.

3. Eat Early – And All the Time

Park City Mountain Resort

When you’re not skiing, watching movies, or taking selfies with celebrities, you should definitely be eating. Park City is a foodie microcosm exploding with local farm to table restaurants that will make the big city folk forget they’re in small town western USA. Turns out world-renowned chefs dream of living the mountain town lifestyle, too.

Every restaurant will be packed at typical meal times. So, it’s time to start your 80-year-old habits now and grab a table at 5:00 p.m. sharp. Because hangry. And open tables.

Bonus: eat early and then high-tail it to a theater where you’re on the eWaitlist and beat all those suckers who have fallen to their hangry depths.

Our favorite Park City restaurants:

4. Take a Break

The film festival is crazy, remember? But you don’t want to go crazy and swear never to return because you forgot to step back and breathe in some of that fine mountain air. Seriously. Get away from all of it and see how friggin’ beautiful Utah is. May we suggest:


Yes, Sundance is a place. It’s a charming little resort village that will convince you that life isn’t just good, it’s pretty darn rad. Visit the deli for coffee, sandwiches, treats; sit down for a good meal at the Foundry Grill, or an unforgettable meal at the Tree Room. And if you happen to be there on a full moon evening (January 23, 2016), you absolutely must get in on the Full Moon Snowshoe walk. Magic on the mountain will replace the crazy of the festival.


Symphony anyone? It’s kind of nice to sit in those green velvet seats, surrounded by gilded gold while listening to the ordered beauty of classical music. Maybe not your style? How about the Beer Bar? We’ve told you how much we love their fries, but this is where you’ll hang with the best of locals—and you’ll have a special place for the Salt City forever and ever more. People are nice here, and you’ll be welcomed like one of the fam. Cheers!

Sundance Resort

5.Venture Off Main Street – Kimball Junction

Salt Lake City

If “The Road Not Taken” was indeed the Road Less Traveled and that road was for sure the best road you could take for a life less complicated, then you definitely need to take the road off Main Street and drive 10 minutes down to Kimball Junction, a.k.a. hang out with more locals. And if that didn’t make any sense, what we’re trying to say is there’s more to Park City than Main Street. Here’s our favorite Kimball Junction restaurants:

Maxwell’s Pizza & Bar

Red Rock Brewery

Billy Blanco’s

Ghidotti’s Italian

Sushi Blue

6. Music Fest

Oh, there’s music at the film festival? You betcha. Really good LIVE music. It’s impossible to miss as every venue will be hippin’-and-a-hoppin’ every night with local bands, national bands, global bands, jazz bands, funk bands, folk bands, rad bands, like-a-boss bands, boy bands, girl bands, solo bandfolk, and bands bands bands. You can’t miss ‘em. Nor do you want to.

7. Stay Warm From the Inside Out

Inside: Coffee, Tea, Hot Cocoa

Atticus Coffee, Books & Teahouse

Our favorite always and forever. Because it’s cozy, eccentric, delicious, and how can you resist sipping a hot beverage in a sea of good books? Pull up an armchair and settle in for a while.

Park City Coffee Roaster

A local small batch roaster with views that will inspire you with all the feelings. “Steep n Deep” will keep you awake during those evening films and after dinner shenanigans.

Java Cow & Bakery

Need a quick drink with a little treat? A big treat? You want a sandwich, too? Sheesh. You must be hungry. This Main Street coffee shop will save you again and again from festival fatigue. And, vegetarians, rejoice! They’ve got some good menu items for you, too.

Outside: Bundle Up!

There’s a reason the locals always seem to be perpetually dressed for shredding the slopes—because it’s darned-awful cold in this mountain town. Bring your warmest down coats, your wooliest hats, your gortex-iest shell, and your shearling-lined boots. Forget looking pretty, alright? Channel your inner western mountain (wo)man, and maybe even pick up a cowboy hat to impress your friends back home.