Every January, the streets of Park City, Utah, fill with actors, producers and cinephiles from around the world who've come to eat, drink and socialize their way through the Sundance Film Festival's ten days and nearly 200 independent films. Those in the know find their way around a scene that, to the novice, can quickly become frustrating: sold-out showings, fully booked restaurants and guest-list-only parties. Here, a guide to Main Street and beyond.
For true cinephiles, the Express Pass A ($3,000; sundance.org) provides access to all festival events, but early risers and night owls can opt for the newly minted Adrenaline Pass ($400), which provides entry to screenings between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m. If you haven't already purchased advance individual tickets, try the Main Street Box Office on the day of the show: Every morning at 8 a.m., the festival releases tickets for that day's sold-out showings and all the first screenings for the following day. If that fails, there's always the waiting list outside each theater, which opens two hours before the start of each show (sometimes earlier for bigger films); tickets are released about 30 minutes prior to showtime. The best option is knowing someone with an industry badge; he or she can request tickets from the office the day before a showing.
Where to Stay
This year will be all about Deer Valley, with the year-old St. Regis (from $975; stregis.com) and the month-old Montage (completely booked at press time; montagedeervalley.com) holding court in the ski-only resort. Even if you don't book a room, make sure to check them out; the St. Regis's Remède Spa will offer Intraceuticals Infusion facials (from $195) and oxygen inhalations (from $30), great for beating the altitude and jet lag (and late nights out), while the Montage will host Sundance's opening dinner. At the Canyons resort, the year-and-a-half-old Waldorf Astoria (from $1,720 for a two-bedroom suite; parkcitywaldorfastoria.com) has a Golden Door Spa; try booking the Mountain Salvation sports massage ($155) with the Szekely Herbal Wrap ($125). The Sky Lodge (from $1,150 for a one-bedroom residence; theskylodge.com) has the most convenient location, right on Main Street at the base of Park City Mountain Resort, but large groups would do well with a Park City rental from Identity Properties (from $930 for a one-bedroom condo; pclodge.com).
*All room rates valid as of press time
Where to Eat
It's best to avoid the concentration of restaurants on Main Street, since most industry dinners are held there. A see-and-be-seen alternative is Jean-Georges Vongerichten's J&G Grill at the St. Regis (dinner, $50; jggrilldeercrest.com), which serves locally sourced dishes like parmesean-crusted Niman Ranch poulet rouge. For something more low-key, try Squatters Roadhouse Grill (dinner, $30; squatters.com) for burgers or brunch, or El Chubasco (dinner, $15; elchubascopc.info), which supplies the Los Angeles contingency with a salsa bar and stellar fish tacos. If you do feel like braving the Main Street madness, always try to make a reservation (but plan on waiting regardless). Some standouts are Reef's Restaurant (dinner, $40; reefsrestaurant.com), which serves fresh Mediterranean fare, and the year-old High West Distillery & Saloon (dinner, $45; highwest.com), which happens to be the world's only ski-in gastro-distillery (it currently produces small-batch vodkas and whiskeys). And Deer Valley club Talisker recently debuted its first restaurant open to the public, Talisker on Main (dinner, $65; taliskeronmain.com), serving haute comfort food like buttermilk-fried chicken and short-rib shepherd's pie.
It's True--No One Ever Skis
If movies aren't your thing, this is the perfect time to hit the slopes, since they will be relatively empty. Try fitting in some mountain time toward the end of the festival, when things have calmed down. Park City Mountain Resort (parkcitymountain.com) is the most convenient option, since you can ski right down to Main Street, but it's Canyons (thecanyons.com) that will be buzzing, with its 300-plus acres of new terrain and a new high-speed quad lift with enclosed canopies and heated seats. Snowbasin Resort (snowbasin.com), located 50 minutes north of Park City, is another solid option; it has a fantastic lodge that was built for the 2002 Olympics, when it hosted men's and women's downhill events.
The Best Parties
For the past few years, Las Vegas nightclub TAO has taken up residency at The Lift, hosting celebrity-packed parties, and actor Danny Masterson's Main Street club, Downstairs (downstairspc.com), is sure to do the same (DJ Paul Oakenfold played in 2009). Most of the industry parties are held at The Yard (theyardparkcity.com) and The Sky Lodge (theskylodge.com) and tend to die down early.--ShannonAdducci
See a slideshow below of the hottest items to pack this year!
Text adapted from Departures' Guide To The 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Sorel updated its classic Tivoli women's boot for Boston boutique Concepts with a cozy charcoal wool upper and rich brown leather in place of Sorel's signature shell. They're sure to keep your feet warm while waiting in line at the Eccles Theatre to see, say, Vera Farmiga's self-directed film, Higher Ground. $180; cncpts.com; sorel.com
Ralph Lauren's Rugged Icons collection includes hand-knit sweaters, buffalo-check weekend bags and casual shirts, like this plaid style in brushed cotton, a cozy option for dinner at the Montage's Apex restaurant. $98; ralphlauren.com
The Muse helmet is available as a hard hat or a helmet and comes in handy on the Olympic downhill runs at Snowbasin. $105; bern.com
The Freeride Wood Dragon skis from Swiss brand Heidiskis have a tip-to-tail white ash wood core and a titanal metal topsheet, which enhances maneuvering. Use them on the Stein's Way run at Deer Valley; when you're done, stop for lunch at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. $1,250; heidiskis.com
The New York-based brand specializes in snowboard-inspired apparel, like this open-collar coat made of wool, mohair and alpaca and insulated with high-tech, temperature-regulating microfibers. Best for the budding ingenue making an entrance at Danny Masterson's Downstairs club on Main Street. $670; isaora.com
The film journal has alphabetically organized sections to fill in, plus a guide to film festivals around the world. $20; moleskine.com
The Liberec coat combines Moncler's signature down with a bright hood and a smart peacoat style. Best worn at TAO's outdoor party at The Lift, with the insouciant look of an indie filmmaker who already knows the ropes. $1,745; 646-350-3620
These unisex Hayes sunglasses will come in handy during a midday whiskey tasting at the High West Distillery & Saloon. $210; mosleytribes.com
The Zoom Kaiju snowboard boots have ankle harnesses and a heat-moldable liner for a custom fit. Wear them to the terrain parks and the new Red Pine Gondola at the Canyons Resort. $350; nike.com
These jet-black Splice goggles have polarized, fire-tinted lenses--perfect for a sunny day at Snowbird resort. $230; oakley.com
This 100% sheepskin chapka is best kept off the slopes, but it will do nicely for slick studio-exec types en route to Jean-Georges Vongerichten's JG Grill at the St. Regis. $270; paulsmithusa.com
J. Crew teamed with American brand Red Wing to design these distressed-leather Wabash boots. Wear them everywhere on Main Street, even to Talisker's first open-to-the-public restaurant. Talisker on Main. $300; jcrew.com
This X-Lander watch has an altimeter, a barometer and a compass. Take it with you on your way up to Alta's Baldy Chutes. $330; suunto.com