A local’s guide to the Sundance Film Festival

The 2014 festival kicked off on Jan. 16. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hickerson)

Even locals who don’t attend film screenings often venture to Park City during the festival to enjoy to bustling atmosphere. This year’s festival kicked off Jan. 16.  (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hickerson)

Every January people travel from all over the world to attend the Sundance Film Festival, where they can watch interesting films, spot celebrities and enjoy the snowy mountain atmosphere.

The festival does its best to make the out-of-towners feel at home here, but festival organizers make sure they don’t neglect the locals who make Utah great year-round. All they ask is that you plan ahead. Way ahead. Want to experience next year’s festival? Here are some locals perks you need to know about now.

Best of Fest

After every festival, the Sundance Institute treats Utah locals to free screenings of award-winning films. You can pick up tickets at box offices in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance Resort on a first-come, first-served basis.

Locals-Only Festival Passes

You have to be on the ball in November to take advantage of this deal, but it’s well worth the planning. With guaranteed admittance and priority line access, the locals passes minimize the time you’ll have to spend standing out in the cold (even though you locals know how to handle it). You can also buy location-specific passes to screenings closest to home.

Locals Individual Tickets

Have a particular film you’re dying to see? Utah residents also get priority time slots for purchasing tickets to individual screenings. Register for a time slot in early November and purchase your tickets online during your assigned window in early January.

First Chance at National Passes and Packages

If you’re ready for the full meal deal with a national festival pass or group ticket package, you’re in luck. Locals get priority time slots for purchasing these too. You just have to be ready to pull the trigger in September. The perks are for the proactive.


The festival couldn’t function without volunteers and Utah locals are in a perfect position to step up to the plate. Donate your time helping at theater entrances, box offices and shuttle stops, and enjoy free tickets to film screenings. There are varying levels of time commitment options during the festival as well as year-round volunteer opportunities.

Register here to get updates about next year’s festival.


Samantha Strong Murphey is a lover of greenery, glitter and goat cheese, an advocate of media literacy, human rights and karaoke for all. She earned bachelor's degree in communications from Brigham Young University and is a former writer and editor at Utah Valley Magazine. Now, she works as a full-time freelance writer and blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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