For the second year in a row, I flew from New York City to Park City, Utah for one of the biggest events in the entertainment industry, the Sundance Film Festival. But, unlike last year, I had one serious goal in mind for my Sundance experience: to party like a celeb celebrating the release/sale of their biggest passion project.
Sure, Sundance is supposed to be all about the movies, and last year this little baby bird didn't even know that some of Park City's favorite restaurants and locals would be transformed into sponsored lounges for brands like Stella Artois, Direct TV, Lyft, etc to host cast parties, panels, and brunches galore throughout the festivities. However, this year I was armed with hundreds of invites and the will to meet Zac Efron. Here's everything I learned.
Know Your Spots
As I said above, a lot of locations in Park City have been transformed, so don't expect to just waltz into any old place. While most lounges have hours throughout the day where they are open to the public, at night they are pretty much by invitation only. Make sure to get on those lists ahead of time.
My home base was the Stella Artois Lounge, which during the day boasted panels and s'mores and hot totties galore, but was also the best bet for celeb mingling. (Full disclosure, I had access to Stella at all times because they brought me out to Sundance). Disclosure aside, I truly believe Stella to be the most intimate location that lures celebs like Awkwafina, Jason Momoa, Gerard Butler, and more out of their sequestered VIP sections. Unlike other spots, which were not as small and bright, Stella's lounge is perfect for celeb sightings (and photos).
Granted, the Direct TV lounge presented by AT&T, though both large and dark, was nothing to scoff at. Particularly for their top tier cast parties like the one for that Zac Efron Ted Bundy movie. Basically, it all depends on if a celeb is chill or not. No one will ever be able to say a bad word about Zac to me ever again.
Ultimately, the biggest party spot is not one of the lounges, but the Tao Park City pop up club, where big wigs go to get drunk and talk major movie deals over table service. Make sure to go on the first Friday and Saturday of Sundance for the best people watching.
Save Yourself from Lines
Celebs don't wait on lines, but you're going to have to. Once your in Park City, mingling your way through the various lounges, it's not all that hard to get yourself on lists for the most exclusive parties. The thing about lists, though, is that they mean nothing if the tiny venue is at capacity. Get to your location at least a half-hour before the party's start time to get a good spot on line, and guaranteed entry.
Food is Hard to Come By - Plan Ahead
I cannot stress this enough. I lived off of hors d'oeuvres for almost the entirety of my Sundance stay. Going from screenings to parties on a strict schedule does not allow for much beyond a quick snack. All the open restaurants are packed: there is no such thing as "in and out in 15." Not all lounges are created equal here, either. To repeat: Stella Artois had make your own s'mores, and the best drinks.
However, knowing now what I had not known a year earlier, I managed to secure myself a spot at Wellhaus' CBD-infused dinner hosted by Charlotte's Web and The Herbal Chef. I learned all about the benefits of hemp-based CBD wellness products from a group of (very attractive) brothers. Plus, the food was amazing. Dinners like this can go for around $175 a seat at Sundance, and are definitely worth signing up for. (Plus, the dinner came with hangover cure samples that were greatly appreciated).
Have a Recovery Plan
Perhaps the best part of partying my ass off at Sundance for four straight nights was being able to come back to my suite at the Newpark Resort in Park City, complete with my own personal hot tub. Three A.M. luxury soaks will save your feet and your life.
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