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Sundance 2016: Your Primer to Park City During the Festival

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It's time again for the film industry to descend on Park City, Utah, and transform what is typically one of our favorite ski towns into a jam-packed, glitz-filled, two week-long party. That's right: the 2016 edition of the Sundance Film Festival starts Thursday. There will be swarms of industry insiders jockeying to make deals, actors there to promote projects, celebrities indulging in the perks of the scene and then the rest of us just soaking it all in. It can be a hectic time to be in Park City, but Curbed Ski has put together a primer with some tips on how to enjoy the festival and navigate the spectacle.

First, catch a film
Press and industry insiders just in town for the festival will have full slates of screenings and passes to get them in. But that's not the only way to catch a film at Sundance. The festival has actually made it much easier in recent years for the laity to get into screenings. Tickets not taken by pass holders are sold on an individual basis online and at the box office in Park City, and downloading the app lets you join an electronic waitlist for the films that are marked as sold out. Midweek and the second weekend are generally better times for buying individual tickets, and the Midnight program screenings (typically horror and dark comedies) are also good bets.

Don't forget that there are also venues in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo with many great films screening in those locations during the course of the festival. Catch a film on your way in or out of Park City. Those who are skiing somewhere else in the Wasatch could even get a taste of Sundance without ever stepping foot in Park City.

Explore the full program or find a printable schedule here.

Our top picks
How to Let Go of the World: Josh Fox looks beyond the immediate effects of oil and gas exploration, which he covered to accolades in Gasland, to the worldwide crisis of climate change. Fox travels the globe to find out if we're already beyond the tipping point.

Lo and Behold: The great Werner Herzog examines the Internet and its effects on our increasingly complex and interconnected lives. Triumphs of the global network are contrasted with casualties of technology, while Herzog also considers the future of the Internet and what that means for us.

Captain Fantastic: Tragedy forces a family out from their isolation in the Pacific Northwest, and the children have to face an unfamiliar world while their father questions the choices he made as a parent.

Certain Women: Based on Maile Meloy's short stories, the film follows the intersecting stories of women in the new American West. Where the men fail, they break trail as flawed people moving through difficult situations.

Grab a bite
Many restaurants will be booked as event venues during the festival, but Ski Utah helpfully put together a list of the dining options that will be open. It's best to plan ahead for reservations when possible, but don't fret if you forget. Thinking outside of downtown Park City is also helpful when trying to find an open table during Sundance. Maybe grab breakfast on the way into town or have dinner somewhere along the festival's shuttle route, like in the Canyons Village.

Did we mention free?
You don't need to have a pass or be on the list for parties and gifting suites to have fun in Park City during Sundance. The festival has free events all over the schedule, installations around town, lounges, music and all kinds of companies and brands have their own host of activities to keep you busy.

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