Sundance Survival Guide
As this year’s Sundance Film Festival quickly approaches, we’ve put together a guide to help navigate the challenges that sometimes arise when we welcome the film world to Park City.
For many, the Festival offers an opportunity to see and be seen. Whether it’s celebrity sightings on Main Street, or catching a soon-to-be blockbuster at the Eccles Theatre, this is the time of year when our town shines on the international entertainment stage. But the traffic and restricted access to areas of town can be a headache if one is unprepared, so we’re sharing the ins and outs of how to get around, how to access available screenings, and general recommendations to make this year’s Festival enjoyable and not just bearable.
For many years, the Festival’s 10-day schedule included the already-busy Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but after some negotiations, the Sundance Institute agreed to start the event the Thursday following MLK Day to free up lodging for traditional winter visitors. With this year’s holiday falling on January 15, that means the festival will begin on Thursday, January 18 and runs through Sunday, January 28.
The Festival is broken into two halves: The First Half is January 18-23, with the first screening at noon on January 18 and the Second Half is January 24-28. Online Festival screenings, a happy byproduct of the COVID years, are January 25-28.
In terms of preparing for the onslaught of Festival-goers, the first weekend tends to be the busiest in town and includes the highest-profile premieres. If you’re not attending screenings, avoid the areas of anticipated gridlock, including the I-80 off-ramps at Kimball Junction, S.R. 224 from Kimball Junction into town, Old Town/Main Street, and the Prospector neighborhood, especially Kearns Boulevard. Also consider visiting restaurants and stores in Kimball Junction and Quarry Village, or plan on early and late-hour grocery runs.
From January 22-24, Park City High School and Treasure Mountain Junior High will release 10 minutes early to accommodate screenings at the Eccles Theatre (adjacent to the high school).
If you are headed into town, Park City Municipal has put together the informative “2024 Park City Community Guide,” designed to help locals and visitors navigate town during the Festival. The guide is offered in English and Spanish and outlines transit options, travel impacts, and other frequently asked questions.
The city is providing ways for everyone to receive alerts on emergencies, traffic, transportation, and weather impacts, and encourages the following actions:
- Text “FILMFEST” to 888777 for real-time text alerts
- Follow @ParkCityGovt on Instagram, and ParkCityTransit and ParkCityGovt on Facebook
- Listen Like a Local to KPCW at 91.7 FM, or stream live online at kpcw.org
- Sign up for Park City’s Emergency Alert Program at parkcityalerts.org to receive notifications about emergencies
If you must head to Main Street, consider taking Park City Transit, which provides extended services and increased frequency during the Festival from 5:30 a.m.-2:05 a.m., which is when the last bus leaves the Old Town Transit Center. Be sure to download the MyStop mobile app, or visit parkcitytransit.org. High Valley Transit provides “last mile” connectivity to bus stops – learn more at highvalleytransit.org. Free parking options to park-and-ride include lots 5 & 6 at Deer Valley Resort’s Snow Park Lodge and the side lots at Park City Mountain (these lots are available from 5 p.m. – 1 a.m. daily), and the Richardson Flat lot along S.R. 248 from which busses will run to the Old Town Transit Center every 20 minutes beginning at 5:30 a.m. until 2:05 a.m.
During the Festival, there are no drop or load areas on Main Street for taxis or rideshares, so plan to be picked up/dropped off at the South Marsac Lot, the Brew Pub parking lot at the very top of Swede Alley, the 9th Street Trolly turnaround at the very bottom of Main Street, or in Swede Alley behind Dolly’s Bookstore.
If you have tickets, this page on the Festival website offers helpful information for all possible scenarios. If you’re hoping to score tickets, there is still some availability for screenings for advance purchase, or you can join the Waitlist for a given time and location. Waitlists open two hours before a screening and close 30 minutes before the screening’s start time. You will need to download the Sundance Film Festival Mobile app for iPhone or Android. Click here for more information and Waitlist instructions.
One happening that is free and open to the public is The Box at the Ray, located in the strip mall behind Fresh Market at 1768 Park Avenue. Running from January 19 through January 24, The Box at The Ray features panels on technology, the creative process, first-time filmmaking, and more.
Also open to the public is the Audible Listening Lounge at the corner at 675 Main Street (at the corner of Heber Avenue), where visitors can explore their selection of podcasts, audiobooks and originals by a warm fire on January 19-21.
Adobe on Main hosts events January 19-22 for filmmakers, film students and industry professionals. If you fall into one of these categories, you can register for their guest list and see the schedule of activities by clicking here.
As a “thank you” to the local community for supporting the Festival, Sundance offers special free screenings to locals, including Best of Fest on January 26, 27 and 28 featuring the 2024 award winners in Documentary and Narrative categories at the Rose Wagner in Salt Lake and The Ray in Park City. The Ray screenings are on January 26 at 4 p.m. for the Narrative and January 27 at 4 p.m. for the Documentary winners. You can order tickets now at this link, or join the Waitlist on the day of each screening.
Whether you’re planning to attend screenings, or are interested in the unique activities open to the public (such as the Napolean Dynamite Food Truck offering tater tots on Main Street in celebration of the film’s 20th anniversary), be sure to bookmark the Festival Map on your phone to easily locate theatre locations, sponsor venues, and Festival stores. As in years past, the Festival Headquarters are located in Prospector Square at the Sheraton Park City at 1895 Sidewinder Drive). The Main Box Office also returns to its previous location at the corner of Swede Alley and Heber Avenue in Old Town at the Gateway Center, where patrons pick up ticket packages and passes.
A successful Sundance experience takes knowledge and patience, and what better way to experience it than as a local homeowner? That’s why so many look to the Choose Park City team for their new home or vacation property. To learn more about area traditions, connect with Christine Grenney at 435-640-4238 or Brendan Trieb at 585-410-5536, or visit their website by clicking here.