PARK CITY — Depending on the weather and other factors, stargazing at the Sundance Film Festival can be a contact sport.

So if you go, be prepared. And read this stargazer's guide to the festival.

Tip 1: Follow the cameras.

Hundreds of journalists are in Park City for the festival, including celebrity-themed magazines, news stations and even blogs. They have the hot tips on the exclusive parties and are easy to spot. If you see photo and video cameras crowding together, there's bound to be a celebrity around.

Photographers also usually have a good story or two to tell.

I found photographers outside the W Las Vegas lounge swapping stories about Scarlett Johansson running down Main at 2 a.m., begging people not to take her picture because she didn't have her hair or make-up done.

Then they all jumped up at the same time to shoot Rob Lowe walking out of the lounge.

Tip 2: Hang out at the right place.

The Village at the Lift (at the foot of Main Street) is one of the biggest places for celebs to score free merchandise from stores like Ugg, Fred Segal and Phillips Electronics.

At the Phillips Electronics lounge, spokeswoman Deanna Anderson said the lounge is there for a specific reason. "Basically, we do it to showcase our products to celebrities." Phillips senior account executive said the kind of publicity a product receives through a celebrity is priceless. "They can influence the market when it comes out." So you can only imagine the type of free things being given away at The Village at the Lift (foot of Main Street), the Loft (Harry O's), Cesar's Spa and during the day at Marquee.

Tip 3: Watch for the autograph hounds.

In addition to the paparazzi, you can find plenty of autograph hounds trying to get a signature from the stars. Just look for the guys holding a stack of glossy photos of celebrities.

Tip 4: Club hop.

Harry O's, Marquee, Celsius . . . the clubs in Park City are hosting the VIP parties and cocktail hours. A constant crowd of stargazers sits outside Harry O's. While it may be cold, Paris Hilton hosted a party there Saturday night, and Good Charlotte band members Beni and Joel Madden were there Friday.

Tip 5: Wear the right shoes.

I speak from painful experience.

Saturday afternoon I totally ate it on Main Street thanks to my tractionless fake designer boots. The contents of my pocket spilled out and as two men peeled me off the street I dejectedly said goodbye to my favorite chapstick as it rolled

past Harry O's nightclub.

Tip 6: Keep your eyes and ears open.

My celeb sightings included actress-turned-reality-star-turned-raunchy-self-promoter Bai Ling, complete with heeled boots and giant jewel-encrusted sunglasses. (Guess she isn't nervous about turfing it and losing her chapstick.)

Just up the street a few feet was Nick Nolte.

Next Crispin Glover and girlfriend Courtney Peldon strutted up the middle of Main Street (literally). The two wore purple gloves, a purple jacket, a purple scarf and a zoot suit, respectively. They shouted "Thank you!" to anyone who took pictures of them.

At the Aquafina Lounge at the top of Main, "Lucky Number Slevin" stars Lucy Liu and Josh Hartnett were said to be doing interviews inside. Ten minutes later, Liu exited the lounge and made a beeline for her car, passing screaming photographers and looking annoyed at the attention.

Then came Hartnett. The crowd turned from me and a handful of cameramen to a screaming crowd of pre-pubescent girls, spewing out the words "I love you, Josh!" and posing next to him. Apparently running late for whatever Hartnett does in Utah in his spare time, he said over and over "I have to go, I have to go," running out to his chauffeured official Sundance car.

A lot of other celebrities are reported to be here, for movies or not. Some stars include rockers: Beastie Boys, Sting, Tommy Lee, Neil Young, Lance Bass, Benji and Joel Madden; actors and actresses: Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, Steve Carell, Joan Cusak, Robert Downey Jr., Shannon Elizabeth, Joseph Fiennes, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Gosling, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ashley Judd, Robert Redford, Winona Ryder, Paris Hilton and Amber Tamblyn.

Good gazing and good luck.


E-mail: astowell@desnews.com