Skip to main content

Sundance Festival Savoir Faire

Here's how to navigate the famed film-centric event

A starry film festival nestled in the white-capped mountains of Park City, Utah,

Sundance is the country's largest independent cinema event for dramatic and documentary films.

From Jan. 17 to 27, 2008, the snowy communities and gingerbread-style Main Street of Park City will come alive with casually dressed celebrities and chain-smoking moviemakers. While by day they slave the cogs of the Hollywood machine, by night they linger till the wee hours of morning in an A-list whirlpool of uber-hot parties and local hangouts.

Hot Homes Away From Home

If you're a Tinseltown exec, you'll likely be in one of the private homes nestled around downtown that are rented out by the Hollywood studios. If you're paying your own way, look into the new

Sky Lodge, open tomorrow (Dec. 26), located directly on Main Street in central Park City. The residence hotel oozes a sexy rustic charm with 33 private residences offering full stainless-steel kitchens, marble bathrooms and rooftop lounge.

You'll likely find the

Stein Eriksen Lodge sold out a year in advance of the festival, but inquire about last-minute cancellations, especially in larger room categories. Located in Deer Valley, 10 minutes from Park City, the hotel attracts celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and various James Bonds. For those traveling with fleshy baggage, namely children, they also offer convenient baby-sitting.

For those looking for the true Sundance experience, check-into Robert Redford's super-swanky and removed

Sundance Resort. While it's a hairy 45-minute drive in icy weather, the secluded lodge is home to an art institute and Native American spa in a spectacularly spiritual setting.

Got Tickets?

Unless you're a billionaire on an indie-film buying spree or you registered for the festival back in October, you'll likely be one of the masses trying to snag a last-minute ticket to the screenings and parties. Plan to arrive in the last half of the festival; the first days are usually the most crowded and least charming.

Any remaining individual tickets are also available for purchase during the Film Festival at the main box offices and

online from Jan. 14 to 27. If this too fails, hit the wait-list line in front of the theater an hour before screenings, preferably at larger venues such as the Eccles Center or Racquet Club Theatre, and films not studded with celebrities.

Also, don't miss the short films and screenings at

Slamdance. The rogue, even-more-independent film festival located at the Treasure Mountain Inn is easier to get into and sometimes offers better access to up-and-coming moviemakers and cutting-edge cinema.

Celebrities Eat Too

While days are spent noshing at free lunch spreads and catered buffets, dinnertime heats up in the local restaurants catering to hungry mountain appetites. New for 2008 is

Fin, located on Main Street at The Sky Lodge, serving up a glittery mix of seafood and game specialties.

Fresh from a summer makeover, Robert Redford's

Zoom is known as the most consistent celebrity hangout. In search of fried appetizers and carnivorous entrees, fur-trimmed guests and their actor boy-toys come in search of hefty portions and hearty cuisine.

Those looking for something more casual should hit the famous

Ciseros, located on Main Street. With its main floor Italian dining room and famous Chicken Marsala, its basement dance and billiards bar is also a local hotspot during Sundance.

Heartthrob Hotspots

If you don't have a ticket to Opening Night Gala, fret not, as a festival pass is pretty much an open invitation to all other Sundance parties. But even without a pass, the hottest parties are actually the promoted events held around town and at local nightclubs -- and they're often open to the public.

For 2008, hit the Music Café located at

Star Room Bar that's open to festival guests and public. A showcase of emerging and established artists, the café offers daytime performances by solo acts and major bands in a program produced by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

On Jan 24, head to

Music on Main as the Sundance Institute presents its annual outdoor concert on Main Street that last year included Of Montreal and West Indian Girl. Afterwards, head-over to the

Sidecar Bar for more regional bands like Brian Wright and the Waco Tragedies.

No film festival is complete without a bit of bling. For the glitzy side of Sundance nightlife polish-off the experience at

Harry O's for some danceable hip-hop and VIP room with champagne bottle service. Its legendary DJ booth has hosted everyone from P Diddy to Akon in the last year.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.