The Sundance Film Festival Guide For First-Timers

It’s no secret that movie theaters have been scaring off the true fans of cinema for some time now. For those who want to fall in love with film, the place to go is once more the place where movies began: film festivals.

Although they’ll always be full of the Hollywood and art scene elite, nothing is keeping out the layman if he wishes to take advantage of all they have to offer. And one of the most popular is the Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance Film Festival Guide For First-Timers

Each year since 1978 in Park City, Utah, Sundance attracts over 120,000 people and racks up a casual $200 million in revenue. And the city itself holds plenty to offer, with its snowy streets lit by holiday lights. But if you don’t plan accordingly, the busy nature of the festival can rain on your parade. So if you’re heading there for the first time, here’s what you need to remember to do in order to soak up all the magic of the festival, and none of the cold that surrounds it:

Book your Sundance experience early

With the tens of thousands of attendants – many of them with their prized “connections” the rest of us could never dream of – it’s important to make reservations way ahead of time; at least 3-6 months in advance.

Arrive ahead of time

By getting there a day or two early, you can get to know the city and map out the things you don’t want to miss during your time, rather than getting lost in the crowded hustle when the festival is actually taking place. Otherwise, you’ll just be swept off your feet – and not in a good way.

The Sundance Film Festival Guide For First-Timers

Spare yourself a few expenses by cooking at home

Not everyone coming to Sundance is rolling in plastic without limits, but the prices around might seem like it. Rent an Airbnb type space where you can pick up some groceries and take care of yourself here and there when you aren’t on the go in between films.

Sleep off the beaten path

Though most of the festival activity takes place on Main Street, you won’t get enough sleep there with all the bustle to enjoy your waking hours. Park City is relatively small, so even staying out of the way won’t be inconvenient – plus, you’ll save money, and save yourself some trouble with the crowds.

Book as many films ahead as you can

The lines at Sundance are no joke. If you don’t have a pre-purchased pass or ticket to a specific show, waiting in line for the most popular films can easily take up 3-4 hours in a single day – and those hours are valuable. As a last resort, day-of tickets can be purchased starting at 8 a.m. and are usually priced somewhere between $20-$25. They sell out fast for the big-name shows, but if you arrive early enough you should be able to find tickets for at least a couple of the day’s films you were hoping to catch. The festival also offers an eWaitlist, which allows visitors to electronically enter a ticket queue 2 hours before designated showtimes.

The Sundance Film Festival Guide For First-Timers

Now – it’s time to relax and enjoy the Sundance Festival experience!