PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters Life!) - The Sundance Film Festival is the premiere gathering for U.S. independent film, and has become a key destination for moviemakers from around the world.
It takes place in the historic mining town of Park City, nestled in mountains about 25 miles east of Salt Lake City, for 10 days in January.
The first weekend is filled with celebrities and private parties. During the final weekend it is easier to get movie tickets and into restaurants, but making reservations is highly recommended.
6 pm -- Whether checking into a sleek modern hotel like the brand new Sky Lodge (201 Heber Avenue; 435/658-2500) or a quaint bed and breakfast such as the Blue Church Lodge (424 Park Ave; 435/649-5020) drop your bags, bundle up and head to the historic town center. Main Street retains a feel of the Old West with historic buildings where you can find everything from fur coats to fine art to Southwestern Indian jewelry and blankets.
7:30 pm -- When you are ready for dinner, warm up in front of a roaring fire at Chimayo Restaurant (368 Main, 435/649-6222), where you will find Southwestern charm. Try the pomegranate margarita made with pomegranate and a secret blend of fruit juices. The Honey and Chile Roasted Duck Enchiladas are smoky and sweet. For something lighter, there's the chef's favorite salad, Stuffed Avocado with Marinated Vegetables and a Pasilla Chili Vinaigrette. If you are a rib lover don't miss their signature crown Roast of Barbecued Sparerib. But a word to the wise, when you make your reservation, request the ribs in advance. They're popular and sell out each night.
9 pm -- Finish the evening with a film. Look at the festival program in advance and order tickets online (here). Have them sent to your home prior to leaving or to your hotel upon arrival. Be at the theater at least 15 minutes before it is scheduled to begin. Festival shuttles run regularly to theaters located in several different venues around town.
8 am -- Eat breakfast at the Deer Valley Lodge at the Deer Valley ski resort which serves an extravagant buffet breakfast with everything from omelets and homemade granola and toppings to a wide array of fresh pastries baked in-house.
Take your first ski day at Deer Valley (www.deervalley.com), the most upscale of Park City area resorts. There are shuttles (Park City Transit) that run regularly from Park City to Deer Valley,
1 pm -- Take the bus back to Main Street, change into dry clothes and pop into the No Name Saloon (447 Main; 649-6667). The menu features burgers made with pure buffalo meat, or you can also have ground chuck beef.
2 pm -- Head for the theater and your second Sundance film. Take the shuttles, allowing about 30 minutes to go from bus stop to theater. The best part of the ride are the conversations with other passengers. People at the festival come around the world and are eager to share their views on the experience and films they have seen.
4:30 pm -- Back on Main Street, visit the New Frontier (333 Main), a Sundance festival exhibition where art and film collide.
7:30 pm -- For a unique dinner there's Yuki Arashi (586 Main; 435/ 649-6293), a lively Japanese restaurant. There is a tasty assortment of sushi and sashimi with fresh fish flown in daily. But you'd be remiss if you also didn't try the Asian tapas from the grill, a blend of Japanese, Korean and French cuisine.
Not to be missed are the Broiled Miso Marinated Sablefish with Seasoned Rice and Sweet Miso and the Bulgogi - Marinated Sliced Rib Eye Steak served on skewers with Bean Sprout Salad and traditional Korean Kimchee.
9:00 pm -- After dinner it's a short walk up the street to Bacchus (442 Main; 435/940-9463), where you can enjoy a drink while listening to live acoustic versions of favorite songs from Green Day to Joe Cocker. There are 35 wines by the glass, 50 by the bottle. If you feel like a little bubbly, buy a bottle of champagne and request that the owners "saber" the bottle for you. It involves a butcher knife cleanly slicing the neck off the bottle and adds a bit of flare to the event.
11:30 pm -- If you're a night owl, plan ahead and have tickets for one of the midnight movies, which range from horror to comedy to quirky dramas.
8 am -- Breakfast at the Main Street Deli (525 Main; 435/649-1110) where the tables are jammed, the cooks can be grumpy, but the food is down to earth, simple and filling.
9 am -- It's time to try the Park City Mountain Resort (here). Trails are plentiful, with varying degrees of difficulty.
1 pm -- Head for lunch at Sundance founder Robert Redford's eatery, Zoom (660 Main; 435/649-9108.) in the old Union Pacific Railway Station. Split the creamy Three Cheese Polenta and a Butter Leaf Salad, before finishing off with their Fish Tacos with Nappa Cabbage Slaw, Mexican Rice and Black Beans or the Chili Steak Quesadilla with Monterey Jack Cheeses, Avocado Crema and Pico de Gallo.
2:30 pm -- Pamper yourself at one of the local spas.
- Aura (405 Main; 435/658-28720) is a full service spa. Walk-ins are welcome and their Red Desert Clay Wrap will ease those tight leg muscles.
- Mountain Body Spa and Herbal Cosmetic Deli (825 Main; 800/417-2365) is the oldest spa in Park City, established 14 years ago. It has treatments ranging from a $1.50 a minute chair massage to it's specialty, the ultimate salt and honey glow body treatment.
- And if you're staying at the Sky Lodge (201 Heber Avenue; 435/658-2500,) there's Amatsu, inspired by an 800 year-old tradition of Ofuro Baths. There are steam rooms, wooden soaking tubs, a tea room to relax and a variety of spa services.
4 pm -- Before heading home, go to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (510 Main; 435649-0997) and pick up a caramel and peanut covered apple or a thick slab of chocolate mint fudge. Browse in Dolly's Bookstore at back of the chocolate shop. But be careful if you decide to settle into one of their overstuffed chairs because you might just sit on a little black cat, curled up and taking a snooze!
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney