City Meets Country: 10 Things to Do During the Calgary Stampede
The “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” attracts over 1.2 million visitors each year — 1.2 million visitors who come for the cowboys, but stay for the shows, music, and spectacle.
The Calgary Stampede is more than just a rodeo, so we’ve gathered our favorite things to do to inspire you to really get to know this city's Western side.
Get your fill at a pancake breakfast
No Stampede trip is complete without a pancake breakfast crawl. If you’ve never heard of such a thing, fret not — it’s exactly what it sounds like. Hop from location to location around the city and chow down on fresh flapjacks. The best part of it all? It’s free — yes, free all-you-can-eat pancakes.
Saddle up at the rodeo
Of course you can’t visit the Calgary Stampede without stopping by the rodeo. With six main events — including crowd favorites like barrel racing and bull riding — you’ll immerse yourself in the cowboy spirit and be left totally gob smacked by the skill and quality of the competitors. If you’re looking for something a bit different, check out the up-and-coming cowboys and girls at the 4-H Rodeo.
Take in a show
Besides the rodeo events, the Stampede is chock-full of entertainment — most notably, a variety of amazing shows. The TransAlta Grandstand Show is a true standout that features everything from singing, to acrobatics, to fireworks. Looking for a different view? Find a nice patch of grass on the nearby hill and take in the fireworks. Daytime entertainment revolves around a dog show that will make you appreciate your best friend’s abilities more than ever.
Amp up the adrenaline
If living on the edge is how you roll, check out the Bell Adrenaline Ranch—just across from the Rotary Dreamhome, another must-see. This space is home to extreme athletes who perform death-defying stunts and athletic feats, all for your entertainment. Just don’t try it at home.
Listen to the music
Live music is the heart and soul of Calgary Stampede, with country legends to rock royalty, emerging artists to fresh new talent in the spotlight for a top-notch outdoor music festival. Stop by the Coca-Cola Stage for free shows featuring today’s top artists, or dance a Texas two-step over to Nashville North to take in your favourite country songs. If big names are really your thing, the Virgin Mobile Stampede Concert Series is sure to please, with acts like the Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, and Jeff Dunham having graced the 2016 lineup.
Strut your stuff in a talent search
Now’s your chance to be a star. Hop on stage and join the Stampede Talent Search, where you can sing, dance, or perform your way to over $15,000 in prizes. Can’t get past the stage fright? Sit back and enjoy these amateur superstars, aged 6 – 21, as they perform their hearts out for the audience.
Win big at the Midway
Whether you’re after the thrill of a roller coaster or want to win an over-sized stuffed toy animal, the classic carnival excitement of the Midway fair will draw you in. Ride high above the grounds on the big wheel, then try your luck at one of many Midway games. The Calgary Stampede is famous for its outrageous food stands, combining nostalgic childhood favourites with a carnival twist. We’re talking whiskey-infused fudge, deep-fried wagon wheels, taco pizza, and cotton-candy cupcakes. Bon appetite!
Live the creative cowboy life
Admire those creative cowboys and cowgirls at the Western Oasis and explore the relaxed side of Western living. Think art, music, food, and wine, all in a tranquil garden setting. Yes, there is tranquility to be found at the Stampede! Also be sure to check out the Western Art Auction, where you can get your fill of inspiring art, then stuff yourself with yummy barbecue favourites at the cook-off between the Calgary Police Service and Calgary Fire Department.
Drum up an appetite for First Nations culture
Twenty-six tipis can be found on the Stampede grounds. At the heart of the Stampede, the First Nations Village is nestled along the Elbow River, offering an insight into the rich history of the First Nations people of the region. Enjoy tours of the tipis, taste freshly made bannock bread, and be left inspired by vibrant Pow Wow dancing and drumming.
Say "Hello Donkey!"
Donkeys aren’t just for Shrek, and the cowboy life isn’t just about the rodeo. Agricultural events are a hidden gem of the Stampede. Animal lovers of all ages will love the Donkey Showcase, get up close with llamas, cows, and horses, then take a barn tour to top off a perfect day.