Every winter, thousands of storytellers and film fanatics travel to Utah for the annual Sundance Film Festival to see films ranging from dramas to documentaries, short films to series. Add experiential and graphic design films as well as live performances on top of that, and this festival is a thing of dreams for a film buff.
Daily filmmaker conversations, panel discussions, and live music events are also on the ticket, so if you’re one of the many who want to attend Sundance, get ready for an exciting time. Founded by actor, director, and producer Robert Redford in 1984, the Sundance Film Festival has launched hundreds of films that have gone on to earn critical acclaim and reach new audiences.
If you’re new to Sundance, it can be little overwhelming to plan your visit, but that’s where we come in. This year’s festival is set for Jan. 24 to Feb. 3 in Park City, Utah, and we’ve got some tips on how to enjoy the festival to its fullest and what else you can do in the area when you’re not hob-nobbing with celebrities or attending special events. We also have a few ideas for where to book your stay.
Planning Your Trip to Sundance
Getting to Sundance Film Festival is simple. Book your flight into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), which is home to over eight airlines serving 91 destinations around the globe. The airport has plenty of ground transportation, including a free festival shuttle, car rentals, Lyft pickup, and private car services.
Because Sundance is a 10-day festival with more than 124,000 attendees, events are held across Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Mountain Resort near Provo. Each city is separated by a 30- to 75-minute drive, so make sure you select screening tickets in the city where you plan on spending most of your time.
The free shuttles are a godsend! There is no public parking at the festival’s Park City locations, but the shuttle is free and hits every festival theater and venue in town. However, make sure to plan ahead if you opt for the shuttles to ensure you’re not stuck waiting in line instead of enjoying the next award-winning film. If you’re not sure where you need to go, volunteers are always ready to help at all main shuttle stops.
The Sundance event page also has this handy map you can use to help you plan your events.
One good suggestion is to buy tickets for at least two films a day to avoid waiting in long lines. You can register at the Sundance website to buy tickets in advance, and you’ll get an email telling you when the advance tickets are open for purchase.
If you do have to wait in line to see a film, get there at least two hours early or hit up the Sundance box office at 8 a.m. sharp to snag any unsold tickets for that day’s shows. Some insiders say you can find scalpers who have tickets for sale at-value but be careful you aren’t taken advantage of by paying too much.
What To Do Besides See Films
You can bet Sundance will have activities and events throughout the entire 10 days, but you can also score some free fun in between screenings.
Celebrity-sighting is more common than you think, so hop on the free Park City Trolley that runs up and down Main Street to spy your favorite actor or actress. Stop by the sponsor tents along Main Street to load up on swag or check out the numerous art galleries on Main.
Film lovers can get their fill with free workshops and film panel discussions to get a peek at the behind-the-scenes stories of their favorite films. These workshops are held throughout the festival on Main Street.
If you need a break from all the sitting in dark rooms, hit the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, or Sundance Mountain Resort. With everyone scrambling around for tickets to the shows, you might be treated to the quietest week of the season on the slopes and the only place with no lines.
Thrill-seekers should check out the Utah Olympic Park bobsled ride nicknamed “The Comet.” It’s among the longest slides in the world, and you’ll glide and slide more than 3,000 feet.
Still need more? Then pull up your britches for The Park City Mountain Resort Alpine Coaster, which has toboggan-style cars that zip you through curves, twists, and loops at staggering speeds.
You can also get in touch with nature with a trip to the state parks in the area. Hiking, mountain biking, and winter sports like skiing can be found at Wasatch Mountain State Park and Rockport State Park.
Where To Stay at Sundance Film Festival
By far, finding a place to stay without spending a fortune is going to be a major concern. Skip the online travel sites that supposedly have “the best price” and only “3 rooms left.”
With Room Key, you’ll find the perfect place to stay because we have all your favorite hotel brands listed in one place. Once you’ve chosen a room, we’ll send you straight to the hotel’s website for you to complete your booking directly on their site, so no third-party shenanigans.
Check out these hotel deals we found during the Sundance Film Festival:
- The Park City Marriott is only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport and is located in the heart of all the Sundance Film Festival fun.
- The Caledonian offers a bit more privacy with its condominium residence, located on Historic Main Street.
- The Holiday Inn Express and Suites is just minutes away from Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Utah Olympic Park, and Historic Main Street.
- The Hyatt Centric Park City is an all-season ski-in, ski-out luxury resort located within the mountainside village of the Canyons Resort.
- Best Western Plus Landmark Inn offers comfort at an unbeatable value.
Whether you’re a little behind on getting your plans together for 2019 or looking ahead to 2020 or beyond, planning your trip to the Sundance Film Festival doesn’t have to be stressful. Let us help relieve your anxiety about finding the perfect hotel near your favorite screening locations by showing you all of the hotels in the Park City area in a way that’s simple and easy to understand.