Apply As A Festival Performer

Please read this entire page before applying, so you understand the process and what we are looking for. We want YOU to perform at NEFFA!

General performer applications are now closed for the 2024 Festival. See the Application Schedule for details. Late applications may be placed on a wait list for cancellations as the program schedule permits. Join the NEFFA Loop for performer news including the annual Call for Performer Applications.


The New England Folk Festival (NEFFA) will be held on April 19-21, 2024 at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel & Trade Center, 181 Royal Plaza Dr West, Marlborough, MA 01752. 

NEFFA is an all-volunteer Festival made possible by contributions of time and talent from our hundreds of performers and volunteers. We thank you for your participation and welcome your performer applications.

For the 2024 NEFFA Festival, vaccination and masking are optional. For details, please review our 2024 NEFFA Festival COVID Policy. Please contact with any questions that may impact your decision to apply.


  • Applications open Thursday, September 15 at
  • General applications close at 11:59pm on Sunday, October 15
  • Dance performance applications close at 11:59pm on January 5, 2024.
  • Ritual dance applications close at 11:59pm on January 15.
  • Program Committee decisions (acceptances/rejections) are sent on or about January 15.
  • Performer confirmations of acceptance are due from accepted performers January 31.

PLEASE DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DEADLINE TO APPLY!!!  It is so much easier if the applications come in continuously over the application period, rather than all at once at the end. We are strict about these deadlines — NEFFA is a gigantic operation, and without structure everything would fall apart. THANK YOU in advance for helping us out by applying early.

 If you are having any trouble with your application, please let us know immediately at

Put your thinking caps on, call your friends, and get ready to submit your NEFFA applications beginning September 15!  


We always look forward to seeing many familiar faces and classic NEFFA sessions return (see Schedule), but we are especially excited to welcome new faces and hear your ideas for new sessions. If you have friends who might be a good fit for NEFFA, please pass this along.

New to the Festival? Check out our Festival Home to learn more about what happens at the Festival. 

We are particularly eager for applications involving:

  • Folk traditions underrepresented at NEFFA, especially from Asia, Africa, and South America
  • Mentoring for those who wish to improve on their skills
  • Structured jams — both instrumental and singing — especially slow jams
  • Family-oriented participatory events – dancing, creative drama, storytelling/acting, singing, mummers’ plays, etc.


Note to Contra and Square Dance Callers+

We are using Larks/Robins role terms, even for more traditionally-based material. We like to feature more focused workshops on squares, chestnuts (including triplets and triple minors) and good dance style. We also appreciate anyone who can offer an introductory session. Please remember that the majority of our dance hours are for mixed levels; rarely do we schedule an advanced contra session outside of the medleys.

Note to ECD and Couple Dance Callers+

For English Country Dance and other non-contra/square dance sessions, role terminology is up to the session leader.  Please use “right/left shoulder round” rather than “gypsy”.

Note on New Work to Singer/Songwriters and Composers+

NEFFA is a highly participatory community, and our mission is to “encourage, sponsor, and preserve high standards of performance of the folk arts and traditions.” As such, we seek out and encourage performers whose own creative work draws from and speaks to folk traditions, historical roots, and heritage music & dance contexts rather than primarily from/to their own experience and/or featuring mainly contemporary themes.  For NEFFA, original work is most welcome when there are active opportunities for Festival attendees to participate, whether dancing to new dances, jamming to new tunes, or singing along to new songs. Singer-songwriters are more likely to be accepted if their application also highlights teaching, leading, organizing, and community-building experience and skills as well as high standards of performance and participation.  Performers of new work are encouraged to submit multiple applications for both concert and participatory/teaching workshops, and to mix new work with traditional and heritage material within an event. If you are unsure of whether your music is a good fit for NEFFA, you may want to consult the Performer Index and take a look for similar performers.


This is my first time applying to NEFFA. What are you looking for?+

We always want new performers, and we watch out for you during the application process! Read this How to Apply page and the Category section of the application form carefully and you’ll get a good sense of what we hope to see from applicants. You can also review the Performer Index to see the names and event descriptions of prior performers. The most important sections are your Event Title and Event Description, and there are detailed instructions for each question on the form. Be as specific as you can about what you offer that makes you unique and distinctive, but don’t sweat it–NEFFA is a big tent.

I would like to do a concert and/or play for a dance. What do I choose on the application?+

Please submit two event applications, one for each! You are allowed to submit up to five apps.

Audiences love to sing along to our group. Should I select Entertainment or Group Participation in the event code?+

If you will be leading all the songs, in general NEFFA considers this entertainment and a concert. If you will be rotating leaders around as for a session or a song swap, that’s group participation. You are always encouraged to invite people to sing along in concerts!

I have more than two people in my group. Where do I enter their names on the application?+

After applications close, you’ll receive a link by email that will allow you to manage your membership list directly on the web. There is no need to list all group members in your application, but you should update them promptly in the web form as we use this information to check for performer conflicts.

What happens after I submit my application(s)?+

The Program Committee reviews applications in November and December. Our crew of 8-10 volunteers prepares the amazing three-ring circus that is the NEFFA grid so that there are no scheduling conflicts. This takes time, seriously, so thanks for your patience. Acceptances go out to performers on or about January 15. You will have two weeks to confirm your participation by January 31 so we can finalize the grid and make any necessary changes (there are usually plenty) before the final grid is published in mid-February.


Join our mailing list to stay in the NEFFA Loop for application deadlines, process, and ways to participate. We welcome you to the NEFFA community!

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