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Frequently Asked Questions

Important information about the 2018 Conference

The boat leaves the Portsmouth dock at **2:25** on June 16. Plan to check in at the dock between 11:00 and 1:00.

The attached document provides you with (almost) everything you need to know about the Star Arts Conference -- what to pack, how to get to the dock and more.

Read and download this important document: 2018 Star Arts Information Page

We are counting down the hours until Saturday the 23rd, but there still is time to register!

About Star Arts

Who Comes to Star Arts? Arts Week participants range from their 20's to 80's. Beginning artists as well as professionals look forward to the opportunities for creativity and close connections with friends. Many come year after year, and friendships made on Star Island extend far beyond our week together.


Can I take more than one workshop? You can choose to visit multiple workshops during the week, but we suggest that you join a group and stay with it all week to get the most out of your experience. On the first workshop day (Sunday), you will have the opportunity to try out three mini-workshop sessions before making your choice.

Are meals included in the fee? Yes. We serve three hearty and healthy meals a day. Meals are served family style in the dining room of the Oceanic Hotel.

Do you have vegetarian meal options? All food is cooked on island, including fresh baked goods provided daily. Vegetarian options are offered at all meals. If you'd like vegetarian meals, please check the appropriate box on your registration form.


What kind of room accommodations do you offer? There are various room options on Star Island. Many conferees stay in the Oceanic House, a hotel built in the 1800's when Star Island attracted many notable artists and writers including Childe Hassam and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Others stay in outer buildings, connected by pathways to the hotel. Accommodations are simple but clean. Most are double rooms with common bathrooms down the hall. For an additional fee, you can choose a double room with a shared bath, or a private room.

I'm coming with a friend. Can we room together? Friends who come together can request a shared room. Be sure to note your roommate's name on your registration form.

I'm coming alone. Will you assign me a roommate? If you come alone, we will match you with another conferee. We take great care in pairing roommates. If you have specific requests, please note them on your registration form.

What's this I hear about showering every other day? Showers are limited because water a precious commodity on Star. We make our own drinking water by putting ocean water through a process of reverse osmosis. Toilet water comes directly from the sea and is then processed in our very delicate and amazing waste water treatment plant. Water for showers and other non-food needs comes from rain collecting cisterns.


What if I have to cancel my registration? Registration and deposit fees are fully refundable up to 6 weeks before the conference date. After that, refunds will be at the discretion of the conference and Island Registrars, and are usually limited to medical or family emergencies. Please contact: .


Preparing to Come to Star


Where is Star Island and how do I get there? Star Island is about 9 miles off the coast of Portsmouth, NH. All Star Arts conferees travel together by ferry to the island. The ferry cost is included in your room & board fee. The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company (ISSCO) provides transportation from their dock on Market Street in Portsmouth. Once you arrive, you will be directed to an area to sign in and leave your luggage, and then to another area on the dock for parking. Please plan to arrive at the dock at least an hour before your boat is scheduled to depart.

I'm driving to the ferry. Can you give me directions?

From the South:
I-95 North to NH Exit 7. RIGHT at lights.
From the North:
I-95 South to NH Exit 7. LEFT at lights.
From the West:
(Routes 4 and 16) pick up I-95 North at the Portsmouth Traffic circle to NH Exit 7. From Route 33 (old 101) take Interstate-95 North to Exit 7.

From Exit 7, turn towards downtown Portsmouth (EAST). The entrance is approximately 3/4 mile on the left, across from the Portsmouth Sheraton and next to the salt piles.

Where do I park my car? The Island requests that you park at the ferry terminal, since the dock is guarded throughout the week. The parking fee is $12 per vehicle per day or any part of a day, so the fee for Saturday to Saturday is $96. This charge will be added to your room and board bill.

I don't have a car. How can I get to the Ferry? If you need a ride, contact the Registrar and she will try to match you with someone coming from your area.

  • C&J Bus Service has buses that travel from Boston's South Station and Logan Airport to Portsmouth (800 258-7111).
  • Greyhound Bus also provides bus service from New York through Boston to Portsmouth (603 436-1888).

Once you arrive in Portsmouth, Blue Star Taxi, (603) 436-2774 Anchor Taxi, (603) 436-1888 can bring you to the ferry dock.


What clothing should I bring? The weather on Star is VARIABLE! Since the Arts conference is held in the mid-June, the temperature can range from the upper 40's to low 80's. Nights can be chilly, and afternoons can be warm enough for shorts. Our advice: bring layers! (A full list will be provided in the Registrar's May letter.) There's also an opportunity for early morning swimming with the Polar Bears. So if you're especially hardy, tuck a bathing suit in your bag!

Are there baggage limits? There is a checked luggage limit of one 40 lb bag per person. Carry-ons including backpacks, musical instruments, and laptop computers are allowed. Details are provided in the Registrar's May letter.


Do you have internet service? If you can't go without access to your email or the internet, there is limited internet service on Star.

Will my cell phone work on Star Island? Yes. Although cell phone usage is discouraged during the week, we understand the need to keep in touch with folks on the mainland. If you do use your phone, courtesy is key. We ask that you find a private spot where you can talk, and are respectful of others at all times.

Can I buy supplies once I get there? Please bring any art supplies and sundries you will need with you to the island. If your workshop requires special supplies, this will be noted in the workshop description. The Gift Shop does not have art supplies and the convenience store has only a small selection of sundries.


Life on Star Island

What happens when we arrive on Saturday? When we arrive on Star Island, we'll start with snacks on the porch of the Oceanic. First year conferees (new shoalers) will go on a short tour to get a sense of the building layout, and we'll all attend a briefing about on-island safety. Then you can head to your room to unpack!

This is my first year at Star Arts. Will someone help me when I arrive? Yes indeed! In fact, if you like, someone will help you before you arrive. We assign new Arts visitors a "Shoalmate" who can answer most of your questions about the Star Arts experience.  

Do I have to take a workshop? On Star Island, your time is your own. Although most conferees take part in a workshop, others come to read, write, or just sit on the porch and admire the view!

What is the Art Auction? What should I bring? During Arts Week, we have an auction to raise money for the Star Arts Scholarship Fund. We encourage you to bring one or more pieces of your artwork to sell at the auction. In the past, Shoalers have brought paintings, photographs, jewelry, carved wooden pieces, knitted or crocheted items, handmade greeting cards, edibles, etc. Small items and consumables are especially popular with buyers.

How do I know what's happening every day? The events of each day are listed on the chalkboard in the lobby of the Oceanic building. Announcements will be posted there as well.

Is it true that you have singers to wake us up? Absolutely! Early-rising Wake-Up Singers will help you start your day with a song!

Can you tell me more about the chapel services? Are they mandatory? Chapel is purely voluntary. While Star Island is founded on the liberal spiritual ideals of Unitarian-Universalism, people representing a variety of beliefs attend conferences.

Are there any special day trips? We try to schedule one or two day trips during the week. We take an annual boat ride to Appledore, the island across the bay where we can visit Celia Thaxter's garden. This year, we're also hoping to schedule a whale watching trip!