Sterling Van Wagenen, the head of Robert Redford’s production company, Wildwood, founded Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the late 1970s. His goal was to attract more filmmakers to the scenic state by holding a festival that showcased American-made films and increased the visibility of independent films.
Over the decades, the festival has morphed from a low-budget, low-profile film festival to a media extravaganza for celebrities, paparazzi, and all things luxurious. The festival’s homebase is now Park City, Utah, where the iconic event is held during the last two weeks of January.
Each morning, you’ll awaken to your choice of snow sports, film watching, spa pampering, hot cocoa sipping, or people watching on historic Main Street. Well-known chefs often open “pop-up” restaurants for the festival, as popular club owners from NYC and L.A. take over event space to bring in some of the best pop-up clubs.
Countless events spring up throughout the city in bars and houses, offering plenty of evening entertainment. So, you shouldn’t have a problem filling your time with things to do at Sundance. For every fun event you find in a Sundance Film Festival guide, there are many more that take place, which you can discover after arriving.
Getting around Park City can be tricky. Unless you hire a driver or make friends with someone who does, you’re at the whim of taxis and ubers, which are few and far between ― surprising, considering the massive population increase brought by the film industry and the huge crowds that come to join in the party. If you haven’t hired a driver or a car in advance, be prepared to wait, and possibly miss out on an event in your Sundance Film Festival guide.
If you’re like me, and you somehow don’t make it back to your cabin from the night before, assembling a new wardrobe is crucial. On this particular occasion, I ran to the gifting suites, where makeup artists and stylists promoting their products erased all evidence of my devious dancing into the wee hours of morning.
When the hair spray settled, I was off to brunch at a restaurant owned by New Yorkers. Before the waiter could even remove the remnants of my eggs benedict, my ears were again ringing to the sound of champagne bottles popping.
That evening, we were invited to a dinner party hosted by another New Yorker, who is friendly with a number of top studio producers. It turned out they all loved a good food fight, much to the chagrin of the private chefs. After dinner, we were driven into town to watch an entertaining drama produced by a member of our dinner party, giving us pause to remember why we came.
The night saw events step it up a notch. We visited one of nightclub mogul Noah Tepperberg’s pop-up Tao Group venues to hear DJ Vice and Brody Jenner spin, and meet up with more friends to find exciting things to do at Sundance. We tingled in anticipation of what could happen next, as a tiny town in Utah was transformed into a scene out of a movie.
If you’re braving winter weather, you may as well do it in style, while surrounded by other festival goers who do the same. This is the place to show off a new Moncler ski jacket on the elegant slopes of Park City. If you’re lucky enough to be or befriend the right person, your day-time activities could involve perusing the gifting suites, where contemporary luxury designers offer free pieces from new collections.
As you carry out your itinerary of things to do at Sundance, make sure you do it in style by browsing our curated collection of Sundance-specific clothes and accessories.
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