We wanted to provide you with a few tips on navigating and enjoying the Sundance Film Festival without an official event credential. We thought this would be the perfect time to introduce Sarah Flinn, our newest blog contributor and Park City native and give you a few tips she's gathered over the years. Sarah captured all of the images supporting this blog post as well. 

When Hollywood comes to Park City, Utah each year, it’s easy to feel out of place. Everyone has their fancy credentials and if you wear any color of jacket but black, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb. People are frantically rushing from one film to the next and talking about directors you’ve never heard of.

It can be intimidating, but even if you’re not a diehard film buff, you can attend the Sundance Film Festival and have fun while you’re doing it. You can also do it without credentials, without tickets and without an IMDB profile. So here it is, your guide to crashing Sundance 2015.

  1. Stargazing. For these 10 days in January, the concentration of famous actors, directors and producers in Park City skyrockets. You could easily be standing in line behind your favorite celebrity while waiting for a coffee at Cows or maybe you’ll end up strolling down Main Street next to a famous musician. Maybe you could even reach out and grab their hand (joking!). Now is the time to pretend like you’re in Hollywood without leaving the Beehive State. Peruse Main Street to see how many stars you can spot. If they seem up for it, grab a photo or ask for their autograph. Tip: Follow celebrities on Twitter and Instagram because they often post what they’re up to in real time.
  2. Collect Free Swag. There are a lot of corporate sponsors for the film festival each year and almost all of them bring free stuff for you to try out. The chapstick and beanies are flowing and you can also enter raffles to win bigger prizes like bikes and even cars! Also, it wouldn’t be a Park City event if the Redbull girls weren’t giving out free energy drinks. And if you need some more energy, there is free coffee to be had at many official festival venues. Also, sponsor giveaways will be hosted at many of the Sundance stores and exhibits.*
  3. Lunch on Main Street. It is nearly impossible to get a dinner reservation on Main Street during Sundance (if you want one, call now!), but lunch is slightly easier to come by. Yes, it’s still going to be crowded, but who knows, you may end up bumping tables with Robert Redford! It’s still in your best interest to call ahead for a reservation so you’re not waiting out in the cold and you get your choice of food.
  4. Shopping. Historic Main Street in downtown Park City is lined with cute, mom & pop shops that have everything. Seriously, there is even a store that just sells olive oil and vinegar!! You can get a new outfit, buy some jewelry for your special someone (Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!), go home with some artwork or even some Sundance-specific gear (the Festival Store will be at 523 Main). Many of the stores have sales for Sundance-goers and some shops are even hosting trunk shows.
  5. Free Workshops & Panel Discussions. For the film aficionados, there are so many workshops and panel discussions happening to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make a movie, develop a story and learn about every other aspect of ‘the industry.’ These discussions and workshops will be held throughout the festival at the Sundance House Presented by HP (639 Park Ave.) and the New Frontier building (573 Main St.).
  6. See a Movie. This seems like the obvious choice, but honestly there is so much going on that you may forget all about the films. Of course, if you’d like to get the full Sundance experience, try to get into at least one showing. If you can’t get tickets to the movie you want the first go around, try the waitlist (for tickets and waitlist information click here). Every year, the Slamdance Film Festival also makes it way to Park City at this time. These films are shown at the Treasure Mountain Inn and can be easier to get tickets to (for tickets and information click here).
  7. Extras. Sundance takes over the town for these 10 days every year. While you could spend the time complaining about the extra traffic and the busy sidewalks, try to take it all in instead. Take advantage of the free shuttles (which are by far the best way to get around town during this busy time), and check out all of the Sundance exhibits, shops and sponsor booths.
  • Festival Headquarters (Park City Marriott) - free coffee
  • Sundance House Presented by HP (639 Park Ave.) - coffee, free wi-fi, demonstrations on the latest HP technology, panel discussions, sponsor giveaways
  • Festival Co-op (608 Main St.) - sponsor giveaways
  • New Frontier (573 Main St.) - exhibits, panel discussions

Sarah is a Park City local, the food blogger behind CallMeFudge.com and a social media content specialist for USANA Health Sciences in Salt Lake City. She spends most of her free time outside enjoying all that the Utah landscape has to offer. Sarah hopes to someday live much like the Grinch: high on a mountain top overlooking the villages. She’ll keep her heart of gold, though.

Sarah Flinn