We hope you’ll take time to browse around our website to learn about who we are, what we do and all we have to offer! This page answers a few common questions in case you need a little help getting pointed in the right direction or finding your way around our site.
Acadia Trad is for you! Students of all ability levels will find a comfortable place to learn, have fun, and connect with a nurturing community of traditional music and dance lovers! Classes are taught in the aural tradition, with an emphasis on learning by ear. You’ll join an intergenerational community with a wide range of ages (adults and children 12 years and up.) Participants under the age of 18 need to have a parent or chaperone attend with them (and there is a pass they can purchase if they aren’t registering to take classes themselves.)
Although our program is designed for students who are 12 years of age and older, certain exceptions may be made for children younger than 12 years who are especially promising and dedicated. If you would like to discuss such an exception with the Artistic Team, please contact our Festival Director.
People of all backgrounds are welcome at our Festival. Please visit these pages to learn more about our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement, our Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy, and our Indigenous Land Acknowledgment.
▸ When do I arrive and depart?
In 2024, registration (and check-in for dorms) will open mid-afternoon on Sunday, June 23, with evening events starting at 7:00 PM that you won’t want to miss! Events wrap up on Friday evening (June 28) and for those staying on campus, check out is (strictly) 9:00 AM on Saturday, June 29.
▸ Where does the Festival take place?
The Acadia Festival of Traditional Music & Dance is held at the beautiful oceanfront campus of College of the Atlantic (COA) at 105 Eden St, Bar Harbor, Maine. COA’s campus is a short drive (or free Island Explorer bus ride) to the splendor of Acadia National Park, and approximately a one mile walk from downtown Bar Harbor where there are shops, grocery stores and restaurants.
Parking on campus is limited, and we will provide information about signage, permits, etc. before the event. Our Transportation Page has more detailed information about travel options by car, plane, coach and boat. We encourage ride-sharing and will facilitate it with a sign-up and information sheet for participants.
▸ Where will I stay?
Many people find that staying on campus at College of the Atlantic in a private or shared dorm room is the most immersive, economical and rewarding Festival experience. However, there are a limited number of rooms and beds available to us at COA, so if you’d like to stay on campus, be sure to register early before we sell out.
There are also wonderful nearby off-campus lodging options, including many comfortable inns and hotels just a short walk across the street from COA and campgrounds on Mount Desert Island. Our Accommodation Page includes links to some of these options, and we’ll keep that page up to date with information on discounted room rates as we are able to partner with local hotels.
▸ What can I study at the Festival?
Acadia Trad curates a faculty lineup that honors and celebrates Celtic-influenced traditional music and dance while contributing to its evolution. Each year, these six core disciplines will be featured in our morning classes: Fiddle, Guitar, Piano, Flute, Dance and Community Singing. In addition to these core disciplines, the festival will include additional disciplines each year, so keep your eyes peeled to see those announcements! Class sizes are limited, so it’s always best to register early to guarantee your place. Visit these dedicated pages to delve into more detail about our Program, the Music and Dance classes we offer, and a Daily Schedule Overview.
▸ Who will I study with?
At Acadia Trad, our classes are grouped by experience.
- The Moose class is designed for novice players and dancers (of any age!) and this class will study with dedicated “novice” instructors for the full week.
- Those in the Community Song program will also study with a dedicated instructor for the full week.
- If you opt for a Seal (Intermediate) or Bear (Advanced) class, your class will rotate through all the instructors for your instrument/dance during the week. This could range from one instructor to five, depending on the class.
- The Seal/Bear Fiddle class, and our multi-instrument/dance Eagles class (Pre-professional level) rotates through our 5-instructor “Fiddler’s Shuffle” (read more below).
Check out our faculty page to find out who you’ll study with this year! Further details on our classes, and which classes are available for different instruments/dance, can be found on our program overview page.
▸ What is the “Fiddler’s Shuffle”?
The Acadia Trad Festival is dedicated to celebrating and carrying forward the music and dance traditions of Acadian and related styles. Each year our Fiddle Faculty will be comprised of masters from these various styles, and together make up the “Fiddler’s Shuffle” of instructors. Each Seal and Bear Fiddle class, and the multi-instrumental/dance Eagles class, will rotate through these instructors throughout the week, studying the repertoire and stylistic variations that define these styles.
▸ Can I study more than one instrument/dance?
Due to the way that our instructors rotate through class groups throughout the week, we recommend that people choose to stick with one “major” discipline for the morning Core Classes. Each instructor teaches their class with material progressing through the week, so switching between disciplines in the morning will mean that you miss important progressive material in one, while you’re attending the other.
However, we absolutely encourage students at Acadia Trad to explore different styles / instruments / disciplines / etc. while at camp. For students wishing to explore more than one instrument (that includes “feet” or “voice” as an instrument) we recommend choosing one to focus on in the morning Core Classes, and exploring the other during the afternoon in our various workshops, sessions, and ensembles. There is a lot on offer!
▸ What’s included in my registration?
Full-time registrants get it all! Core morning classes, all afternoon workshops and events, and admission to evening concerts and dances.
▸ Can I still participate, just not as a full-time student?
Yes! Each afternoon during the Festival, we present a wealth of workshops that are available for the public to purchase. These are wonderful opportunities to dive into the music, dance and singing traditions of the styles we host at Acadia Trad: Acadian, Cape Breton, Irish, Québécois, and Scottish. Hone your skills, learn about the history of these traditions, add tunes to your repertoire – and then share them in jam sessions with your fellow students and our world-class faculty! Our workshop schedule will be announced in spring. Tickets (individual, daily pass or weekly pass) will be on sale to buy in advance online or in-person on campus during the Festival week.
▸ Do you offer scholarships?
We have a robust scholarship program that is 100% funded by our generous community! We encourage you to learn all about it and apply (the deadline is January 31) and to make a tax-deductible donation to the Acadia Trad scholarship fund if you are able.
▸ Are evening concerts open to the public?
Yes! Whether you’re local or just passing through, we invite you to join us for these incredible concerts featuring our faculty in special collaborations throughout the week. Learn more about our concert line-up here, and purchase tickets in advance. Our evening concerts often sell out, so don’t delay in purchasing your tickets (individual or a weekly pass). If you’re attending as a student and would like to have family or friends join you, plan to buy theirs early as well!
▸ What’s the COA campus like?
College of the Atlantic is a small environmental studies school surrounded on one side by Acadia National Park and the other by the Atlantic Ocean. You can start off your day with a dip in the ocean or a stroll along the pier, just a 5 minute walk from the dining hall. On your way to classes you are likely to pass white-tailed deer and chipmunks!
Many of the pathways are dirt and gravel, so it’s a good idea to bring layers of clothing, appropriate outdoor footwear, sunscreen, and bug spray. If accessibility is a concern for you, we encourage you to contact our Festival Director with your specific questions and needs, so we can supply further information.
The college’s wireless network is available in all buildings and many outdoor spaces (and we’ll provide instructions to help you login.) Phone service is pretty decent, depending on your provider. There are no ATMs on campus, but many are available in Bar Harbor. There are coin-operated laundry machines on campus that are available for your use (please bring quarters and your own detergent.)
Other campus rules (such as pets, smoking, alcohol and noise curfews) and information (quiet spaces, emergency instructions, storage for instruments, maps for finding your way around) will be covered in your registration package. Long story short – it’s a magical place to be. We love it and we think you will too!
▸ What are the dorms like?
We utilize several different buildings on the COA campus. Some are newer and some older, and all have their own charm. Each room has a twin bed (or more if shared,) dresser or closet, and a desk. There are shared common rooms and fully equipped kitchens on the ground floor for your use, and you’ll also share a bathroom with others (even if you have a private room.) Buildings are stocked with cleaning supplies, garbage bags, paper products, etc. and it is up to us as a community to clean up after ourselves during our stay.
Not all buildings have bedrooms on the ground floor, and not all have elevators. If you have concerns about stairs, please let us know on your registration form so we can do our best to place you accordingly. If you play a heavy instrument, please know that they are often left in the classrooms so you don’t have to carry them around campus.
▸ How’s the food?
This might be the number one question on your mind, and it’s also a top comment in our feedback surveys! “The food is so good!” You can read a lot more about it on the COA website here, but let us assure you that the kitchen staff does an excellent job of accommodating different diets, allergies and restrictions. Meals feature organic locally-farmed vegetables and ingredients, and humanely raised / sustainably sourced meats and seafood.
Full meal plans are available for purchase for registrants who are staying both on and off campus. Participants who have not purchased a meal plan in advance or are not attending full time, will have the option to buy meals à la carte 30 minutes after meal times start when there is food left over. There is plenty of indoor and outdoor space to enjoy meals, so even if you’re not staying on campus and want to bring your own meals with you, we encourage you to pull up a chair and dine with a new or old friend!
We also provide a free morning snack & coffee/tea break for ALL registrants each day and some munchies at evening jam sessions (when you’re also welcome to bring some to share.)
▸ What should I plan to bring with me?
If you’re staying on campus, you will receive a linen package consisting of twin sheets, a pillowcase, a bath towel, and a face cloth. Each bed will also have a pillow and blanket. Please see our Things to Bring to AFTMD list for other items you might want to consider packing. We will do our best to keep this list up to date as things evolve.
▸ Can I rent an instrument?
We are sorry that this isn’t a service we are able to offer. All participants (including piano/keyboard players) are required to bring their own instrument.
▸ What is your COVID-19 policy?
At present, Acadia Trad does not require proof of vaccination to attend the festival, though we strongly encourage all in attendance to be fully vaccinated, to self-test prior to arrival at the event, and to mask as appropriate. We invite you to read our full COVID-19 policy, and our protocols for a positive case of COVID-19 here. We will operate dynamically in compliance with state and COA guidelines.
▸ Do you have a refund policy?
We understand that your plans may change, and we do our best to remain flexible while also making sure we can pay our bills. Read our full cancellation policy here, which also includes information about deposits, balances and medical contingencies.
▸ What about sustainability?
We are committed to putting on a Festival with the least environmental impact possible. The College is a zero-emissions campus, with solar power, composting toilets, and organic locally-farmed foods. We use 100% compostable disposables wherever possible, and we encourage you to bring your own reusable beverage containers, etc. We’re also proud to support the efforts of the Sustainable Touring Artists Coalition. Thanks for helping us keep our planet clean and healthy!
The Acadia Festival of Traditional Music & Dance is governed by Friends of the Acadia Trad Festival, a Maine nonprofit corporation, and supported by Fractured Atlas, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit devoted to empowering arts organizations. Website art by Anabelle Keimach and Annelise Papinsick.