The Sundance Virgin (What I Learned During My First Time)

Hello all, as you know I’m no longer a Sundance virgin. I had a great time during my first time (Highlights will be included in another post)! While I was there, I learned a thing or two that I wanted to share. I compiled a detailed list for those on a budget with some planning (and a lot of flexibility) you can have a great time without breaking the bank.


  • If you aren’t flying, consider carpooling if you aren’t going alone. I personally wouldn’t recommend trains or buses unless you don’t live too far- as in 5 hours or less away. Based on my personal experiences, buses (such as Greyhound) are often very unreliable. There are issues with overbooking, delays, and disorganization- and in the dead of winter, that can lead to disaster. You’ll be better off spending a little extra money to fly. Amtrak I noticed is more expensive, and gets you to your destination in almost double the time. Statistically, Wednesday is a cheaper day to fly out.
  • If you can, stay in Park City because Uber surge pricing, shuttles, and cabs will cost you big time if you stay elsewhere. Uber is especially notorious for its astronomical prices during the festival. This is my recommendation if you are unable to rent a car or bring your own. Also a fact: While there is Uber in Utah, there is NO UBER POOL. You may have to spend a bit more on accommodation, but you’ll save on getting from point A to point B.
This was during Uber surge and that was only a mile and a half!
  • An airport shuttle service I would recommend is Express Shuttle. It is $45 for a shared ride to Park City- which is reasonable considering Uber surge pricing.
  • If you decide to stay in Salt Lake City, there is a bus that goes to Park City called the PC-SLC Connect. It’s $4.50 one way, but it’s service is limited. Plan accordingly! Schedule can be found here.
  • In Park City, the Sundance Film Festival provides a free shuttle to festival hot spots. Park City also has its own fare-free transit system. Pretty awesome right?
  • In regards to the above point, some cheaper options for lodging can be found on Airbnb. But book in advance, because closer to the festival many of the listings that can be found are overpriced or in outside areas such as Salt Lake City.

FOOD & BEVERAGES (Because you need nourishment)

  • Prepare some meals before you go: A lot of your time will be occupied, so I recommend preparing some meals and snacks. Perhaps eat breakfast at your lodge (Do take advantage of this option if your accommodations have continental breakfast), and pack some snacks for later while you’re standing in line.
  • FREEBIES! A lot of the sponsored lounges and festival hotspots (that are open to the public) have free refreshments. For instance, Chase Sapphire on Main had a Taste of Park City, and the Sundance TV headquarters had free hot chocolate, coffee, and also snacks.
  • If you would like to go somewhere nice, I recommend making reservations in advance, because it will be near impossible to get into some places- especially during the first half of the festival. AND…be prepared to stand in long lines no matter where you go.

STAYING WARM (Protect yourself from the elements)- If you don’t already live in a frozen winterland, here are some tips for finding cold weather gear. I currently live in Southern California and unfortunately left most of my winter threads at home, and didn’t want to spend a fortune on items I wouldn’t wear much. 

  • I’m an Amazonista. There are some amazing threads (stylish and practical) you can find. You can look like a star without spending like one- and stay warm in the process! Don’t worry, a shopping rule of mine is to not buy anything that has below a five-star rating.
  • Thrift Stores: I love them. Depending on the area you live in, you can find some amazing things for cheap. Near my home is a place called Bargain Hunters (featured on A&E’s Storage Wars) where they often have bargain-priced coats from estate sales. Also, you can find some unique pieces that no one else has at a thrift store. They are my favorite places for over-sized sweaters.
  • Buy right after Christmas. Since Spring is approaching, many retailers will be trying to clear out their winter inventory. And a lot of post-holiday sales occur at this time!
  • Outlet Stores: Outlet stores are the next best things to Amazon in my opinion. You can find many great pieces for a fraction of the cost. I visited the Sears Outlet near my home, and let me tell you- there were some great deals! I was able to score four nice over-sized sweaters and two pairs of gloves for under $30. They also had winter coats for $30 and under!
  • Also, dress for warmth! It’s OK to look cute, but place warmth first. Honestly, towards the end of my time in Park City, I didn’t even care about what I looked like anymore.
Ponchos are this fat girl’s best friend. Found on Amazon


  • Since I wasn’t staying the entire duration of the festival, I couldn’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a pass. I decided I’d rather pay for my tickets individually. For the first half, tickets are $20 to $25 a piece. Budget some extra money for this.
  •  Something to be aware of is- since ticket package holders are a priority, many screenings will already be SOLD OUT by the time individual ticket sales open. This is where an open mind, patience and flexibility come into play.
  • Online Ticket Sales: Since I had a Sundance Institute Membership ($65 a year for the most basic level), I was able to buy early. If you are going to buy online, there is a service charge of $2 per ticket.
  • Day-Of Tickets: This is something I found to be a gem. While things may appear sold out, if you wake up early enough and go to the box office, they release a limited number of tickets for the day’s screenings.
  • The E-waitlist: If a film is completely sold out, you can use the Sundance app and place yourself in an e-waitlist 2 hours prior to a film’s screening time. When you arrive at the venue, you will stand in the line according to your assigned number. If you get in the film, it’s $20 (CASH ONLY).
  • If you do get a pass, I recommend (if you’re between the ages of 18 and 24) the Ignite Pass for $25o which includes 10 tickets, a credential, and networking events- during the second half of the festival.
  • FREE EVENTS!!!: There is so much going on at the festival that you’ll barely be able to keep count. Many organizations attend the festival and host panels, parties, and other events. There are also areas such as the Sundance TV headquarters and Chase Sapphire building that host daily panels with filmmakers and talent. I also found out about the Blackhouse Foundation, and Latino Reel. The Festival Base Camp had a pretty good lineup of performers as well.


  • TREAT VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF WITH RESPECT! Volunteers are the heart and soul and Sundance! Without them, the festival wouldn’t exist! Also, they can make your life a lot easier.
  • Don’t forget wellness, especially if you’re not used to cold weather! Try to get adequate sleep and nourishment, because you’ll get back home and be sick!!!



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