What should I bring?
This question may seem a bit odd, or even too obvious, but I can assure you that going to a Folk or 'Hippy' festival (I trust you know what I mean here) is very different from a Goth festival or any other festival really, and can be a really new and different experience for newbies.
(These answers are not directed at Goths specifically, but rather people doing the whole camping thing in general. Specifics will come later.)
Most likely, unless you happen to know someone who has room in their house, you will have to camp. This may be entirely off putting for some, but I actually like for short periods of time. Many places don't allow cars or other vehicles close by so your best bet is to go with a good quality tent. Make sure it is waterproof! Also, consider the number of people you'll be sharing a tent with. A two person tent, I believe, fits about 1.5 people and no gear. I'm exaggerating here, but seriously remember to allow adequate room for people to sleep, access their belongings and get changed. A tent that is overly big will be very heavy. You will probably have to lug so gear around to find a campsite that is suitable, so excess baggage is something to avoid! Still, a tent will be your hub, and should be a place for recovery after hitting the bar for too long! =P
You could also opt for a swag if you have one. Sleeping under the stars sounds lovely, but in a crowded area, you could get stepped on! Seriously, there are a lot of odd or unsavoury characters at festivals (just like everywhere else in the world) and leaving yourself outdoors in just a sleeping bag may make you vulnerable.
Other sleeping gear.
A sleeping bag at the very least to protect against the cold night air, but for those who don't enjoy have rocks-in-the-back while getting some shut eye may want to look for a blow up matteress or sleeping mat. Again, this really depends on space, but also your budget. Sleeping mats tend to be no more than a few centimetres of dense foam. This is actually more comfortable that you might expect, but it is still not much padding between you and the hard earth.
A blow up matteress is more pricey but a comfortable option. Just remember to bring the bellows and appropriate fitting nozzles! So many times we have forgoten a nozzle that fitted and just had to improvise (or borrow, but don't rely on that)! Check for leaks too. You don't want to wake up a 5am after a long hard night of getting your dance on to find your matteress completely deflated and you resting on the hard ground. (Another experience of mine!)
Oh and if you like having some neck support, pack a pillow or two. One pillow can be shared between two people (you'll have to get cosy, so maybe considering sharing with a partner or best friend. I'm sure two sisters would be fighting over how much pillow each has!) and this really saves on packing space. If you forget, or decide you don't have adequet plush, you can fill the underneath section or just under neath your pillow with clothes for extra padding. I have done this in the past. It's not so much fun but it does work!
Clothes and Toiletries- I think I'll be doing another post on this, as this can be a Goth-specific area.
Food and cooking utensils.
Honestly, I'm pretty rubbish at this point of the organising process.
It's very important though, if the festival doesn't provide food or you don't want to pay for it; it tends to be a little overpriced and questionable quality. After all, after a few days in the baking sun, possibly surrounded by a water source like a river, things may go sour. Just a warning to be aware.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, most likely at folk festivals this will be catered for, due to the large percentage of folkies having similar dietary choices. However, if you are gluten intolerant for example, you may want to do your own thing. Also, keep in mind things like Halal or other choices if needed.
Warning! If you are anaphylactic or really allergic to certain foods then you need to contact the festival organisers about this! Of course, I trust you're all very responsible and would do this anyway. =)
Remember something to cook with, ie. heat. This is something that can really be shared if needed to save on packing space, but look for a hot plate or cooktop, or mini stove. Gas is probably the best choice. Or you could use an open outdoors fire, but check the fire regulations first. I live in a serious bushfire area, and open fires that are even secured can be dangerous. Really though, if your going to do any cooking you don't want to forget this!
Of course, you own crummy 2 minute noodles, with no soy sauce, don't look as tempting as a hot cone of stir fried fresh vegetables and noodles, but I would recommened DIY if you have already purchased and lugged the food. Save your coin for other trinkets or clothes at the markets, hot cups of good coffee or chai, or go all out and don't spend a thing. Use this time to be in touch with nature and not so dependant on earthly possessions.
Items for entertainment
Naturally while at a festival the last thing you need is a distraction from the festival itself, but bringing an iPod or .mp3 player with you can help with dealing with the travelling to and from your destination, especially if you are going by public transport. Also, if you are bringing tiny little ones to the festival (many are family friendly), perhaps some small toys would help keep their attention spans in check. (On that note, I appologise but I don't have children of my own so I cannot really comment on their requirements in regards to packing. Please remember to bring everything you need, and check the festival if there are any regulations regarding disposal of nappies ect. More on this later though)
Reacurring themes in this post have been plan ahead and be sensible and organised. If you keep these in mind you should have a smooth, worry free festival. Posts to come are; Appropriate Attire, and the Behaviours of Folkies (including yourself)