The Egyptian Theatre in Park City is the cornerstone for the Sundance Film Festival (Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
It’s that time of year again.
The time when Hollywood takes a break from awards season in Los Angeles to invade Park City for the Sundance Film Festival.
The 10-day event was created to celebrate independent films from all over the world, but now in its 31st year, Sundance has become synonymous with more than just movies.
From brand installations and exclusive nightlife events, the backdrop might be snowy — and the scenesters actually traveling on foot — but through Feb. 1, there’s a Tinseltown takeover happening in Utah.
From what to wear and which parties to attend to — of course! — the screenings, here’s a complete guide to how to see and be seen at Sundance 2015.
For the Movie Lovers
Brett Morgan’s Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck is one of the must-sees at this year’s festival. (Photo: Sundance Institute)
The only thing more stunning than Park City itself is the diverse cinematography playing inside its theaters. From buzzy documentaries to a slow-burning classic, there’s no shortage of indie gems birthed by this festival each year (thank you, Sundance 2014, for current Oscar contenders Boyhood and Whiplash). Which is why throngs of popcorn-munching cinephiles pack their coziest snow boots and brave unavoidably long lines in the bitter cold — because it’s worth it.
Like the years that have come before it, 2015’s most-hyped flicks also span the spectrum, from comedy (Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America starring Greta Gerwig) to music (the Kurt Cobain doc Montage of Heck) to Scientology (HBO’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 bestseller).
Mistress America, starring Greta Gerwig (Photo: Sundance Institute)
Scope out the schedule, panels and trailers, and buy advance tickets here until Jan. 25 (individual tickets are best for non-badge holders). Once you arrive, you can buy tickets at the box office and try to snag limited day-of seating, or head directly to the theater and get on a waitlist. Refer to the handy Sundance app on your iPhone or Android.
Insider’s Tip: If you aren’t staying in Park City, make sure to get tickets in the city where you are staying — the festival spans Salt Lake City, Ogden, and the Sundance Mountain Resort. Go here for a map of official venues.
For the Fashionistas
Sundance is all about staying warm and looking chic. If you find yourself in a fashion bind, swing by Cake for a wardrobe upgrade. (Photo: Cake Boutique/Facebook)
The ground might be white, but the streets of Park City are one big red carpet, with everyone navigating on foot or via the free festival shuttle. From celebrities to the average film buff, the best outdoor fashion is on display. In order to keep warm but also keep your style intact, packing must be strategic — especially if ski clothes have to fit in the suitcase. Bring one versatile coat that works for day and night, a pair of furry and flat boots that are made for walking, and winter accessories to keep your hands, neck, and ears toasty. For underneath, staples include leggings, jeans (without rips), Navajo sweaters, and a (faux) fur vest. Forgo the fancy cocktail dress — instead, opt for wintery numbers that can be paired with tights, and bring enough layering pieces so you don’t sweat when you’re inside.
If you happen to suffer from a fashion faux pas, head to Main Street to score an Elizabeth & James pullover from Flight Boutique or Rag & Bone skinny jeans at Cake Boutique. Once your outfit is step and repeat-ready, stop by The Keratin Complex pop-up salon from Jan. 24 to Jan. 26 at 780 Main for a blowout or braid-bar ‘do.
Insider’s Tip: “Style first, comfort second” might be the mantra, but the quickest way to look like an ass is by falling on yours because you’re wearing heels on the ice. This isn’t New York City or Aspen — think laid-back chic with Sorel boots.
For the Partiers
Sundance isn’t just about the movies – there’s also a happening party scene as well. (Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Movies are the main attraction for most, but there are some festivalgoers who trek to Sundance just for the parties. Since movie screenings and after parties go hand-in-hand, how do you navigate the social conundrum that is Sundance?
To kick off the festival, the entertainment industry scrambles to put on three nights of late-night events and this year, these are the hotspots (for easiest access, you’ll want to be on the list, but it’s also possible to wait in line): Nikki Beach club will lure its jet-setting crowd to Riverhorse on Main; Village at the Lift will be home to TAO nightclub until the wee hours; 1Oak invades The Rockwell; and to close out the weekend, Moose Knuckles will be hosting a mechanical beaver-riding contest for charity at Blue Iguana on Jan. 25. All will see their fair share of celebrity pop-ins.
For the remainder of the festival, Main Street is your nightlife hub. Not only is it packed outside (you’ll often find yourself should-to-shoulder with friendly strangers), but the street is lined with all of the bar, venue, and celeb-spotting options you’ll need (the stars are truly everywhere). There’s also a music scene to see at Park City Live, which hosts 10 nights of headliners for Winterfest (buy your tickets here).
Insider’s Tip: If you are a festival badge owner, you can catch daily performances at the ASCAP Music Café and schmooze with the stars at Cinema Café. Check out all the access you get with your badge here.
For the Foodies
Robert Redford’s restaurant Zoom (Photo: Zoom/Facebook)
The most exclusive invite for the culinary crowd at Sundance is ChefDance at Victory Ranch. The annual, mini-food festival rotates celebrity chefs from around the country over five nights (Jan. 23 to 27) for an exclusive mix of diners. This year’s chefs have been culled from the new competition series Best New Restaurant (airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo) and will be serving up to the stars from some of the hottest films in town, including The D Train, Experimenter, People, Places, Things, and Take Me to the River.
But there’s no need to fret if you weren’t able to score a seat, because Park City provides brag-worthy meals galore both on Main Street and at the resorts. There’s Robert Redford’s upscale Zoom, farm-to-table fare at Talisker on Main, and locally sourced treats at Riverhorse on Main, and if you need to warm up (which of course you do), savor a four-course meal at Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge beside — you guessed it — a crackling fireplace. Java Cow Cafe & Bakery is a local must for coffee or homemade ice cream, and the Windy Ridge Café is another go-to for casual comfort food.
Insider’s Tip: With lines aplenty and venues being rented out for private parties, arm yourself with power bars, trail mixes, and other portable snacks to hold you over in a bind.
For the Ski Bums
In addition to killer slopes and great views, the St. Regis Deer Valley offers spa treatments and hydration therapy (Photo: St. Regis Deer Valley/Facebook)
Sundance is a skier’s heaven. With most people hitting up movie screenings and gifting lounges, the usually packed and powdery slopes are yours for the taking. Park City is central to the three resorts that make up a total of 9,000 skiable acres: Deer Valley Resort, The Canyons Resort and Park City Mountain Resort. Since the entire town is practically ski in and ski out, a lift from Main Street will take you up to the slopes if you aren’t staying at one of the pricey hubs. (With nearly all of the hotels being over-run during the festival, scope out vacation rental companies for condos and timeshares either in Park City or Deer Valley.)
If you are in the market for a truly unbeatable stay, the St. Regis Deer Valley should be your base. When you’re ready to après-ski, valets hold your equipment while you refuel in the Mountain Terrace, at the split-level infinity pool, on a chaise lounge at “ski beach,” or during a rubdown at the four-star spa. During the festival, this hotel gets how painful it can be to regroup after nonstop revelry, which is why the I.V. Doc will be on-call to administer 30-minute hydration therapy to kick your hangovers, jet lag, and general exhaustion. That way, you can hit the parties, including the official ICM fete happening in the hotel’s Luxury Lounge, and still be ready to hit the slopes before your first screening the next day.
Insider’s Tip: Monitor the snow report here.
For the Swag Junkies
Acura will have 100 MDX’s on hand to taxi folks (and all their goody bags) around the festival. (Photo: Acura/Facebook)
The lineup that might actually be the hardest to keep track of is the long list of lounges and installations promising perks. In between screenings or before events, there are plenty of spots where you can unwind or wind up, for free. Some require you to be on a list, but most just want to welcome you in with open arms — so they can convert you into a lifelong customer once your guard is down.
Start your morning with complimentary coffee at the McDonald’s McCafe Lounge in the Village at the Lift, or at the Acura Studio, where 100 Acura MDX’s will be acting as Sundance Ubers to give festivalgoers a rare motorized lift. Chow down on an all-day buffet while you get your makeup touched up at the EcoLuxe Lounge at Cisero’s and pop by Birchbox’s sampling station at ChefDance Daytime. If you’re looking to be active, join a class at the pop-up Pure Barre Studio, climb the indoor rock-wall at the Eddie Bauer Adventure House, or trek a virtual Pacific Crest Trail at the Fox Innovation Lab for Wild. When it comes to gifting, Talent Resources’ annual Suites at the Blue Iguana Restaurant are a must (you can pick up Botkier New York handbags) or you can try your luck at winning a free trip to Aruba at Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge.
Insider’s Tip: Bring an extra suitcase.
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