Hollywood’s annual invasion of the Wasatch Mountains is upon us. The 2016 Sundance Film Festival kicks off today through January 31 in Park City and venues in Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden.
While films obviously take center stage during the festival, there’s a ton to see and do in Park City during Sundance beyond the silver screen. Pop-up clubs, lounges, restaurants and stores line Main Street and there are dozens of parties and VIP events to partake in. Yes, there are even some for us common folk.
Sundance 2016 Best Bets:
Best Ways to Score a Movie Pass
To see films and attend events at Sundance you’ll need to purchase a festival pass, ticket package or individual tickets. (Utahns: Did you know there’s a local pass? Registration for these starts in September so mark you calendar now for next year). If you didn’t score a pass this year, there are plenty of ways to get tickets on the ground so don’t fret.
Individual tickets can be purchased online here. These will be easier to snag after opening weekend once all the Hollywood hot shots have cleared out of town. Also note that once you reserve 10 tickets you’ll be maxed out for a certain number of days. You can also try your luck with the eWaitlist. This mobile-enabled check-in system allows festivalgoers to reserve a space virtually (no more waiting out in the cold for two hours!). Register for the Sundance Film Festival eWaitlist at ewaitlist.sundance.org. Tickets are $15 at the door and it’s cash only.
Best Non-Movie Things to Do
For those coming to Park City for the party, Sundance fixtures like Tao, Village at the Lift and ChefDance are all returning this year. The Eddie Bauer Adventure House is also back this year from January 22-23. This music-driven hangout space gives VIPs a way to escape the cold and enjoy tunes from top DJs along with “adventure” activities like an indoor rock climbing wall.
If music is your thing, Sting, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelly, Veruca Salt, R. City and Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts are just a few of the musicians on tap to perform at Park City venues during the festival. The ASCAP Music Cafe is back for its 18th year and will feature eight days of world-class music programming.
When you’re all partied out, take an intermission from the Fest and hit the slopes. Park City Mountain, Canyons and Deer Valley resorts are all easily accessible from downtown. And with most everyone in town for the festival (and those not in town for the festival avoiding the area altogether) you’ll get to experience some of Utah’s best skiing without the normal crowds.
Best Places to Eat and Drink
Bars and restaurants will be crowded. You’ll need reservations – or won’t be let in at all because the venue is closed for a private event. That is just the reality of Park City during Sundance. Still, there are several joints off the beaten path (ie: anything not on Main Street) that will be less crowded. Or, get yourself in with the in-crowd. Either way, these are just a few of our favorite spots to try.
Atticus | This comfortable, casual and cozy indie book store/coffeehouse/tearoom is hosting the Indie Fresh Brew Music Series (January 24-27) featuring free performances by independent musicians from 10am to 9pm, which could prove to be a welcome reprieve from the festival chaos.
Deer Valley Grocery Café | Perfect for festivalgoers on the go. Pop in here for a breakfast sammy or grab a housemade baked good with some jam and cheese.
High West Distillery & Saloon | The world’s only ski-in distillery, High West serves up delicious western-inspired food and cocktails. Check the calendar on their website for special hours and closures during Sundance.
Riverhorse on Main | One of Park City’s most celebrated restaurants, Riverhorse has a trendy urban vibe with live music in a historic setting. If it proves impossible to get into, which it likely will, try the first-come, first-served upstairs bar.
Zoom | Rich in Sundance history (Zoom occupies an old Union Pacific Railroad station), the causally elegant spot provides an authentic way to connect the past with the taste of the present. Popular dishes include the infamous Zoom Burger, Truffle Mac n Cheese, and Wood-Grilled Beef Tenderloin.
Best Ways to Enjoy Sundance from Afar
Not in Park City this year? There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the Festival. There is exceptional streaming live coverage of the entire festival, Live @ Sundance, including Sundance Institute’s “Power of Story” panels. Lena Dunham, Robert Redford, John Krasinski, and Chelsea Handler are just a few of the stars that will be participating.
There are also several movie screenings at venues outside of Park City, such as Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City Public Library and Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake, Peery’s Egyptian Theatre in Ogden and the screening room at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Provo Canyon.
After the festival ends, Sundance Institute presents complimentary screenings to locals in Salt Lake, Park City, Sundance Resort and Ogden, known as Best of the Fest. Tickets are first-come, first-served and the films will be shown on February 1. You can find more details here. Summit County residents (with proof of ID) can see free screenings as part of program called Townie Tuesday. Details here.
The Sundance Institute is also all over social media so you can follow them from home for minute-by-minute coverage of film premiers, Q&As, panels and parties on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Youtube, Shapchat and Spotify– yes, they’re everywhere! #Sundance
And that’s a wrap! Are you going to Sundance this year? Share your own Sundance Best Bets in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Photo Credit: Raffi Asdourian