5 Tips for Your First Calgary Stampede

If you’re new to Calgary, you’ve probably noticed that the city has transformed over the past couple weeks: hay bales, western decor and plywood planks are covering many businesses and homes by now. That’s because it’s time for the Calgary Stampede, the 10-day festival that our city looks forward to year after year; this year’s Stampede runs July 7 – 17. If this year marks your first Stampede, here’s five tips to make your experience a success.

The Stampede is proud to host more than 1.2 million visitors from all over the world to join in the festivities at The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Throughout these 10 days, we blend our Western Canadian heritage with dynamic contemporary entertainment. [Calgary Stampede]

  1. Dress the part: for the true Stampede experience, you need the true Stampede uniform—denim jeans, cowboy hat and cowboy boots. There’s so many ways to wear western for this festival, and you’ll be sure to find lots of apparel options all over the city and even down on the Stampede grounds. Just a head’s up on weather, Calgary is kicking off the first part of Stampede in a heat wave, with temperatures hitting over 30 degrees for the first few days, so dress appropriately and bring sunscreen!
  2. Don’t drive: driving is a bit of a nightmare down to the Stampede with traffic and parking issues around the area. Your best bet is to take Calgary Transit, walk or bicycle, use Car2Go or a taxi service. You’ll save yourself time, money and a lot of frustration if you sort out alternate transportation to the grounds.
  3. Check out the western events: at the heart of Stampede is the rodeo, a 10-day competition featuring 9 events and the world’s best athletes competing for over $2 million in prize money. This is by far the biggest attraction of the Stampede, details on the competition and schedule are online here. But the Stampede also pays homage to the western heritage and agriculture of Alberta too, with daily exhibits and shows, more information online.
  4. Experience the midway: the Stampede midway is full of hundreds of rides, games, shopping, exhibits and more. The biggest attraction of all might even be the food, and there’s even more midway food being added this year so be sure to try some of the creative (and daring) food options there.
  5. Check out some live music: in addition to the rodeo, the Stampede plays host to a music festival too. There are stages around the grounds that offer free concerts (after cover to the grounds) every day. You’ll find great live music at the Coca-Cola Stage, Nashville North (on the grounds) and at a handful of other Stampede tents setup around the city during the 10 days. More information on Stampede music, including a schedule, can be found here.

And be sure to snag yourself some free pancake breakfasts, there’s free breakfasts being held all over the city every day of the week. You can track free breakfasts with the Free Stampede Pancakes website. And remember, Friday, July 6th is Stampede parade day as the festival kicks off!