Whether you’re a hardcore movie buff or a casual lover of film, there is something for you at the Sundance Film Festival. The Festival, which is the most prestigious film festival in the United States, is known for its welcoming atmosphere and laid-back vibe.

Sundance acts as a clearinghouse for the best independent filmmakers and acting talent in the world. Filmmakers strive to be among the two-to-three percent of films chosen to screen, and big production houses jostle to sign on new talent and purchase the best movies. The Festival overflows with infectious energy, and festival-goers return year after to year to soak in the down-to-earth yet glitzy vibe of Park City, Utah’s most famous mountain town.

Is this your first year to Sundance? Here’s how to glam it up at this year’s Festival.

Pick Your Lodgings

The Sundance Film Festival brings in over 125,000 people to Park City, and this can cause quite the stir for accommodations. While it can be possible to get last-minute lodging, it’s better to plan ahead.

Park City’s downtown is quaint, beautiful, and not set up to gracefully handle the influx of traffic that comes along with an event of this size. Street parking is scarce and expensive. Because of this, there are two ways to crush your lodging at the Festival: stay within walking distance to historic downtown Park City or stay on the free shuttle route.

An apartment or room in Park City’s downtown is the way to go if you want to be in the thick of the action. Park City is a compact, walkable town, making it easy to reach all the Festival’s main theaters and events on foot. You’ll also be close to the parties, red-carpet celebrity sightings, and some of the best spots to eat and drink.

If you're keen for some relaxation during your stay, book a little further out from downtown. The Festival’s free shuttle route runs daily until the wee hours of the morning and is the fastest and easiest way to get around. It’s also a great place to chat with fellow moviegoers and catch the latest buzz on which films to see, which to skip, and where to find that perfect lunch burrito.

Snag Tickets

Seeing the up-and-coming films at the Sundance Film Festivals requires either a pass or individual movie tickets. Snagging tickets takes a bit of finesse and perseverance, but with these two qualities, you’ll be able to get into almost any film you’d like to see.

If you want to go “all in,” opt for a Festival Pass. Passes are spendy but get you priority entrance to all screenings. If you’re an early bird or a night owl, take advantage of the Off-Peak Pass for priority entrance to all screenings before 11:00 AM and after 10:00 PM.

The Festival also offers advance purchase 10-Ticket Packages and Individual Tickets. If you don’t get the tickets you want or prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, try your hand at getting eWaitlist Tickets on the day of the screening.

Where to Eat

For a small mountain town, Park City knows how to delight your taste buds with everything from quick meals to elegant, multi-course affairs. There are nearly 200 restaurants in Park City, and if eating well is on your list of “must-do’s” during the Sundance Film Festival, it pays to do a little legwork ahead of time.

The Park City Area Restaurant Association is a great place to start your research. Their list of the best places to eat during the Sundance Film Festival is a perfect jumping-off point. If that list looks a bit too dear for your budget, take a look at the best affordable restaurants in Park City.

Secure your reservations well in advance of the Festival itself (many restaurants in Park City are on Open Table, making this process easy and quick). If you haven’t booked your table, opt for more casual dining or try your luck at scoring a table on a no-show reservation. Be sure to call in advance to make sure the restaurant is serving the public that night—some establishments close to host private sponsor parties during the Festival.

One last quick tip: to stave off hunger throughout the day, stock up on snacks. Park City has a Whole Foods, Smiths, and several small markets.

What to Wear

Queuing is part of the culture at the Sundance Film Festival, and whether you’re waiting for tickets or a dinner table, you’ll want to be warm. Park City is known for its casual elegance; use this to your advantage by layering your clothing to fend off the chill.

Long, warm jackets are de rigueur on the streets of Park City. Pair the jacket with lightweight wool leggings or long underwear under your outfit to keep your legs and core warm while you wait. Be sure to pack a pair of insulated, waterproof boots for your feet.

Glamour and celebrity mix with raw talent and the creative fringe at the Sundance Film Festival. This year join the party with a trip to Park City to experience the passion and skill of the world’s best independent filmmakers.

About Sarah Sheehy
Sara Sheehy is a writer who travels the world seeking wild places and great stories. She loves discovering off-the-beaten-path destinations, starting conversations with strangers, and road trips. When she's not traveling, Sara spends her time exploring the mountains around her home base of Sun Valley, Idaho.