The invasion is already underway here in Park City. Skittle-colored ski jackets and pants have all faded to black. Ski and snowboard boots have been replaced with furry Uggs.
That’s right, Sundance Film Festival 2018 is upon us. The ten-day period when we Airbnb our entire town so Hollywood can throw a fancy cocktail party in the mountains. It’s the ten-day period when locals just leave town or adopt one or more of the following strategies:
Over my 18 years in Park City, I’ve tried every approach and I think I’ve come up with a pretty good plan: Do it all! It's only ten days. Burn the candle on both ends. Stay up late, go to whatever party or bar you can get into. Get up early, grab some coffee and hit the slopes first thing in the morning. Après-ski and get ready to go out again. You'd be surprised how long your body can run on fresh air, adrenaline and caffeine.
Enjoy the night before Sundance with Brett Dennen at OP Rockwells. It’ll be the last night to enjoy the town we love for another ten days. Don’t miss out.
The festival kicks off Thursday night, but town is still somewhat slow. Go out on the town and do some recon for the upcoming week. Grab a drink at your favorite bar before they conveniently forget your name and local status. I’ll probably head to No Name Saloon or The Spur, before making my way to OP Rockwell to see Triggers and Slips opening for Side Deal.
This is one of the biggest days of the festival. Celebrities will be showing up from their private planes. Uber will probably be illegally operating helicopters out of someone’s yard on Old Ranch Road. It’s a great day to get some work done or hit the slopes. With a storm set to hit the Wasatch this weekend, it’s a good idea to dhit the slopes and figure out what zones have coverage before a series of storms find their way to Utah.
After skiing, change into your most garish People of Sundance kit and catch the bus into town.
Don’t plan on getting into any of your regular watering holes, but enjoy wandering around and do some people watching. Try to talk your way into a private party. General Admission for Kaskade at Park City Live is sold out, but you could always drop a couple grand on a VIP table.
JRR Tolkien once said, “Not all who wander are lost”… but this obviously doesn’t apply to Sundancers. So do your best to wander into private parties, check unmanned doors, look for holes in security. Put those ski bum skills to use, it could be your ticket to fame — or at least one hell of a story to tell when you're welcome back at the dive bar in two weeks.
In the heart of Main Street during Sundance, enjoy free refreshments, Wi-Fi, massages and a warm, welcoming retreat at The Swedish Lodge, a pop up Swedish-inspired shop that sells décor and features General Snus, the No. 1 selling snus in the world.
Wake up early, throw on your snow-proof Uggs and get to Main Street by 9am to join in the Respect Rally, a follow-up to last year’s dramatic Women’s March on Main Street.
After that, head straight to the slopes for some powder skiing. A much-welcomed winter storm is set to hit Friday night into Saturday morning.
Saturday night should be a wild one. Aside from Tao and a bunch of other private parties, Post Malone is playing a sold out show at Park City Live.
Go skiing or go see a movie. Need some guidance? Here’s Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Most Anticipated Sundance Movies. But make sure to be back at the ASCAP Music Cafe by 2pm to see Aloe Blacc.
I’ll be headed to Deer Valley for the day before making my way to The Montage for the free Live at the Montage Concert Series at 6pm. If I have anything left in the tank by Sunday night, Marshmellow is performing at PC Live.
Monday is a great day to catch up on some work, sleep, or skiing. I’ll probably do all three and ski into town from Park City Mountain and head to the ASCAP Music Cafe, to check out some musicians, headlined by Michael Franti at 4:30 pm.
There’s no way I’m missing Diplo on a Monday night at Park City Live.
Tuesday morning is shaping up to be another powder day. I’ll keep an eye on the Utah Daily Snow Report and see where the snow delivers and head there.
After kicking off the ski boots, I’m headed to apres-ski at O’Shucks - Main Street for a $3 burger and $3 schooner (or two). The locals will come out of hiding to check out three regional favorites, SuperBubble at The Spur, Rage Against the Supremes at Flanagan’s, and Talia Keys at The Cabin. I’ll probably check out both before finding a way to see former OutKast Big Boi at Park City Live.
This could be an ideal day to spend burning off a hangover or, at the very least, some unwanted calories in the backcountry. I’m planning on making my way into the backcountry via Park City Mountain. Then finding my way to Main Street to check out some of the virtual reality (VR) exhibits. Always one of the most interesting events for locals, there are a handful of different VR exhibits at this year’s festival. Brett Dennen will also be playin a set at the ASCAP Cafe.
Then I’m headed to Yuki Yama for some sushi and ramen on what should be a good night for locals to visit their favorite restaurants before the People In Black take the town over again. And I’ll definitely be looking forward to both Skylar Grey at OP Rockwell and Reggae/Rock band Tribal Seeds playing a set at Park City Live.
Thursday would be a fun day to head to Sundance Ski Resort to see if I can’t ski a run with the Downhill Racer himself, Mr. Robert Redford. If that doesn’t work, I’ll at least grab a drink and hope to see some celebrities at the Owl Bar before heading home to Park City to check out Michael Franti at the ASCAP Cafe, local band Badfeather at The Cabin, the one and only DJ Vice at Downstairs, or back to Park City Live to catch Steve Angello… whoever he is.
Friday morning would be a great time to ski Deer Valley, making sure to swing by the Apres Lounge at the Montage, before stopping in to see who’s playing The Live at Montage series that evening.
After a quick bite to eat at The Montage, you’ll have a tough decision to make, do you head to The Cabin to see Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 fame? Or up to Downstairs to catch a set by DJ Sid Vicious? Or to the top of Main Street to see Michael Franti again at OP Rockwell? Or try to find a way into Park City Live for whatever unannounced show is going down on the final Friday of Sundance?
This is the last chance to make the most of Sundance 2017. I would plan on getting to Main Street early and spending the day trying to get into every venue possible. Do it all. Dress like a Sundancer. Take selfies with celebrities. Sneak into venues. Show off fake credentials. Pull out all the stops. It’s your last chance to leave Sundance 2018 with a story that no one will believe.
If that doesn’t work, which it rarely does, there’s no way I’m missing Nelly at Park City Live before heading to Downstairs for the unofficial Sundance Closing Party with A-Trak or uphill and downstairs for the Closing Party with Crystal Method at OP Rockwells.
Proceed to dance the night away, knowing that when you wake up, Sundance 2018 will be a distant, hazy, ibuprofen-and-pedialyte-requiring memory.
Turn of the alarm and sleep as long as your body tells you to. Wake up, go skiing with your friends, après, and do whatever feels right to take back our town from the People in Black. But don’t waste a minute, there’s only 355 days until the invasion starts again.
jill adler \ 6.2 years ago
@jer E. and used to describe Park City! The irony is that you can't get more narcissistic than during the Sundance Film Fest.
Jon \ 6.2 years ago
you sound like a jaded local that thinks Park City is all about him. Yes it's busy for a short time but Park City is a place we all want to live and experience because of events like this. There are sleepy little backwater places that would suit a narcissistic person like yourself. Go there please. I've watched losers like you come and go. Please Go.
APRÈS ADAM \ 6.2 years ago
Thanks for the feedback, Jon!
As a 16-year resident of Park City and a veteran Sundancer myself, I am a fan of pretty much everything the Sundance Film Festival brings to our town. We all rely on the additional income from Sundance to pay our bills. The festival also provides us many year-round programs and opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be available to us. The ten days of chaos provide us with so many fun experiences that I went ahead and laid out further down in my post... if you made it that far.
As a local, I am, of course, obligated to preface my story with the standard jaded-local complaints about Sundance. Otherwise, this wouldn't qualify as a Local's Guide to Sundance.
This year’s approach to Sundance has been an easy one for me so far, and that is to spend as much time on the mountain lapping up all this snow.
See you out there!
Jer E. \ 6.2 years ago
I don't think I've ever seen sleepy, backwater, or narcissistic used in the same sentence. congrats.
Bozo \ 6.2 years ago
No bagels and cream cheese for you Jon!!!!!!