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Sundance Forecast – Snow, Swag and the Scene

Of course, we’re there for the movies, but there’s a lot more than that going on in Park City this year. Check out the best industry perks beyond the big screen.

There are 270 unofficial parties, suites, and lounges over the next ten days, according to creator of the famous “Sundance Party List”, Christopher Ryan. Even the list itself now has an exclusive corporate sponsor – Microsoft’s “Bing” –  which added security features to keep prying eyes away from the 2011 edition that’s been making the rounds in Hollywood this week.

Here’s a rundown of the top sideline entertainment on the festival’s opening weekend.

Snow: Some Park City packages sold by the state of Utah actually let you convert your airline boarding pass in to a free lift ticket on the day you arrive. But since nobody in Hollywood buys vacation packages, most will look elsewhere for ski-gifts. Try for the Burton House, where select industry VIPs can get off Main Street,  get private lessons (and free gear) from snowboard legend Jake Burton himself, or just hit the slopes for a few hours.

Swag:  Did you pack an extra suitcase for the way home? To the chagrin of many, the swag suites made famous on “Entourage’s” Sundance episode have become as synonymous with the festival as screenings and snow. If you’re talent, represent top talent, or influential enough to get talent to show up somewhere and pose for photos, these freebies may be in your future: running gear from Puma, winter wardrobes at the Levis Lounge,  products and services from Fred Segal Salon and Spa at the Studio on Main, sunglasses at the Carrera Escape.

Sports: Many of the same marketers and talent that will be at the Super Bowl in Dallas two weeks from now, will watch the two NFL games that determine which teams will play there at ESPN’s annual “Game Day” viewing party on Sunday afternoon. For those who like their games on a console with a controller, Playstation is hosting a gaming lounge at the Retreat at Silver and Nintendo will also have a presence at the festival.

Shows: Pop-rockers One Republic play the House of Hype LiveStyle lounge on Friday night.  With both the “A Tribe Called Quest” documentary and “50 Cent” hosting dinner parties for their film projects there on Saturday night, odds are that guests who make it past the always over-subscribed door will have a live performance to tweet about. Last year on opening weekend, even Bill Gates got in to the Sundance spiritby dancing on a table.  This is the space where anything can happen.

Scene: The bustling lift complex at the bottom of main street is now the “Samsung Galaxy Tab Lift”. If you can’t wait for the Blackberry Playbook later this spring, you’ll know you’ve hit it big in Sundance if you actually leave the complex with one of the new tablets, which are rumored to be scarce and closely guarded.  Stella Artois and Food and Wine magazine will be serving up free breakfast and lunch for credentialed guests in Park City’s temporary reincarnation of a café like Toast or Urth Caffe. By night, NYC and Las Vegas mainstay TAO imports their velvet rope (and their celebrity relations staff) to a sprawling complex in the garage that will last until 5 A.M.

All of the above are by invitation only, site-specific credential, or a friendly face who gives you wave at the door.

Good luck.