It’s likely you are familiar with the Sundance Film Festival. We have been talking about it for the last several days, and you have probably heard mention of the well-known festival through the mainstream media. As a six-year resident of Park City, I too am familiar with the festival, but for several reasons I have always been a little intimidated to join the festivities. Today, I decided I was going to venture down to Historic Park City and see what I could see and better understand what you can see even if you are not an official festival go-er equipped with an official festival credential. Fortunately, the weather could not have been any better with bluebird skies and a temperature that must have been hovering in the mid-40’s. Four hours and a full belly later, I can say the Sundance Film Festival did not disappoint. I have also booked my calendar for the week with festival activities that I can participate in.

Walking down the steps adjacent to Treasure Mountain Inn from Park Avenue to Main Street, I was kindly offered a cookie. Yes, before I had even stepped foot on Historic Main Street I was already being offered treats. I decided right then and there that this was going to be a fun day. I continued to Main Street and decided to approach my first venue, Sundance Channel HQ, which is located across the street from TMI.

I was quickly ushered in the doors of the Sundance Channel HQ, and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I registered all that was going on. Immediately to my left, I found a free espresso bar. To my right, a line of fellow festival go-er’s waiting to create a free photo flip book. As I ventured further into the venue, I saw custom tote bags being made and a comfortable lounge full with free wi-fi, interactive iPads, and snacks….lots and lots of snacks. In the back corner, I found free Nalgene bottles with a Brita refill station. The line for the tote bags and flip books was a little long for my liking, but the opportunity is there for the taking. Sundance HQ is open from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. daily through Friday, January 24. From 4:00 - 6:00 there is a pre-party daily, also free and open to the public, but you are asked to RSVP at www.sundancechannelhq.com by midnight the day prior to the day you’d like to attend the party.

Across the street from the Sundance Channel HQ you can find the Morning Star pop up shop, located in the Eating Establishment. Morning Star is feeding hungry festival attendees through Tuesday, January 21 for free from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. During busy hours there is a line, but what’s a little line when you are getting a free veggie burger? I’d suggest standing in line and fueling up before continuing down the street.

Next, I wandered upon One Million Square Feet of Culture Installation, which is only in Park City through January 19. 1MSQFT is a series of guest curated physical spaces that live on through technology. The traveling exhibition includes 1,274 square feet in Park City curated by La Blogotheque and Ken Miller.

From here, I journeyed to The Source (evolving) by Doug Aitken, which I have been looking forward to for weeks. This installation is the structure you may have seen being constructed in the Suede Alley parking lot. I walked away inspired and impressed. Open from noon - 12:00 p.m. through the end of the festival once you enter the installation and once again once your eyes adjust you realize there are small screening areas with different films playing in each screening area. If you stay as long as I did, you realize that each screen is looping the same set of films. These films are conversations between Aitken and various artists (including Jack White) where Aitken attempts to understand the source of their creativity. If you do nothing else Sundance-y over the next week, I recommend you experience this installation.

Once I peeled myself away from The Source, I popped into the New Frontier, which once again provided artistic expression combined with a lounge area. I filled up my water bottle at one of the Brita refilling area and continued my journey to the Acura Prism lounge.

As an official Sundance Film Festival sponsor, you may have noticed the infiltration of Acura’s in town. What you may not know, is that you too are welcome in the lounge for more free wi-fi, gourmet aps and complimentary hot and cold drinks. Did I mention the candy jars that line the tables? 

The Summit Watch Plaza is filled with various venues, but the most exciting encounter I experienced were the passed truffles courtesy of Salt Lake City based Hatch Family Chocolates. Oh my, they were delectable. After my sugar buzz had passed, I headed over to Lower Main and did a little celebrity gawking at the Village at Town Lift. I’m not sure who was who, but there were several other gawkers, so I’m sure we saw someone important.

Continuing along, I checked out the AirBNB Haus. If nothing else, seeing how these brands come in and transform various buildings is impressive. The Air BNB Haus, formally Blue Iguana has magically transformed into a beautiful “home” that you can’t help but enjoy. I happened to notice the artwork of Park City local Hunter Metcalf featured and am sure several other locals are enjoying the same honor. Take a look at their website to see what is going on and RSVP if you feel so inclined. I know I’ll be back as the week continues.

The YouTube lounge and the Chase Sapphire on Main are both open to the public for the majority of the day. As I was walking by, both were temporarily closed, but I was encouraged to return.

As you can see, Historic Park City has transformed to accommodate the festival attendees across the world, but locals and non-festival attendees can continue to enjoy and learn from the experience. Several of your favorite restaurants, boutiques, and galleries are open for business as usual and would love to see a familiar face during this hectic time. Park City is so fortunate to have this influx of creativity to our town annually. One of my biggest takeaways this Film Festival is that while it is widely known as a celebration and exhibition of film, there is much more creative expression showcased in Park City during Sundance. Don’t be intimated to experience it for yourself.