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.
WHO: Arcade Fire’s Win Butler & Régine Chassagne, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, DJ Windows 98 and renowned music photographer Danny Clinch
WHAT: Make Change @ Salesforce Music Lodge, a brand new series that celebrates music as a platform for change during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. The series of intimate conversations and performances will bring together world-renowned musical artists who are creating positive change through music and will benefit various philanthropic causes and non-profit organizations.
WHERE: Salesforce Music Lodge | Park City, UT
WHEN: January 25th – 27th
MORE: Make Change @ Salesforce Music Lodge will begin on Friday, January 25th with an opening night event featuring a conversation with renowned music photographer Danny Clinch. Saturday, January 26th will feature a special performance by Arcade Fire’s Win Butler & Régine Chassagne in support of the KANPE Foundation. The weekend will conclude on Sunday, January 27th, with a performance by the iconic Preservation Hall Jazz Band in support of their own Preservation Hall Foundation. Each night will feature panel discussions with the artists and acclaimed KCRW personality Anne Litt about their respective causes and how music can make the world a better place. See below for a complete programming schedule.
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