Welcome to the world of the Calgary Stampede, where you’ll find an incredible celebration of western heritage, culture, and community spirit! This annual event takes place every July in Calgary, Alberta, and is known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” So, prepare yourself for a thrilling journey as we dive into everything you need to know about the Calgary Stampede.
The ten-day event is packed with excitement and fun for all ages. While it does have one of the world’s largest rodeos to chuckwagon racing and agricultural shows, we found some amazing activities that there’s something for everyone at the Calgary Stampede – including amazing music shows, all the carnival eats you can imagine, rides for the adventure seekers and pancake breakfasts across the city.
Millions of visitors from around the globe come to Stampede Park to enjoy the festivities, including a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, and a plethora of delicious food options.
But remember, the Calgary Stampede is more than just a ten-day extravaganza; it’s a gathering place that educates and entertains visitors all year round.
While you’re there, you’ll not only experience the thrilling events, but you’ll also become part of the community that embraces and celebrates the rich history and traditions of the Canadian West.
Now let’s saddle up and explore the magic of the Calgary Stampede together!
History of Calgary Stampede
Curious about how this world renowned event has come to be?
The inaugural exhibition took place in 1886, and the renowned Stampede rodeo began in 1912, thanks to the efforts of Guy Weadick, an American trick roper. After visiting Calgary and recognizing its potential as a prime location for a grand rodeo, Weadick envisioned a world-class event that would showcase the western heritage of Canada and the United States.
Despite initial skepticism, he pitched his idea to the business community and managed to secure financial backing for the inaugural event.
In 1912, the first Calgary Stampede was held, and it achieved instant success. Over 80,000 people attended the event, which featured rodeo competitions, parades, and exhibitions. Since then, the Stampede has become an annual tradition, with the exception of a brief hiatus during World War I.
Things to do at the Calgary Stampede
The cool thing about the Calgary Stampede is that there’s something interesting for everyone. You can spend an entire day there, and still need to come back again because of the thrill of rodeo competitions, exhilarating carnival rides, live music performances, delicious food, and a wide range of entertaining activities make it hard to cram everything in one day.
Whether you’re a cowboy at heart or simply looking for an unforgettable experience, the things to do at the Calgary Stampede offers something for everyone.
Evening Shows At Calgary Stampede
Cowboys Rangeland Derby Chuckwagon Races
For most of us, this is what we come to expect when we think Stampede activities- this exciting event will have you be on the edge of your seat as you watch wagon racing at its finest during this event. With the blast of a klaxon, nine heats of three chuckwagons each kick off the excitement. Don’t forget to cheer for your favourite team as they compete for the title of the fastest chuckwagon. These races are a unique mix of adrenaline and tradition that you won’t want to miss!
Bell Grandstand Show
One of the coolest way to wrap up your day at the Calgary Stampede is by spending the evening at the Bell Grandstand Show. Here, get ready to witness some dazzling performances by various artist including Young Canadians that are sure to leave you mesmerized. Remember to grab your tickets in advance and take your seat for a thrilling show under the night sky.
Of course, no Calgary Stampede evening show would be complete without a spectacular fireworks display. As the night ends, take a moment to look up and marvel at the vibrant colours lighting up the sky. It’s the perfect way to finish a remarkable evening of entertainment and excitement at the Stampede.
So there you have it! A glimpse into the amazing Evening Shows at the Calgary Stampede, tailored for your delightful viewing experience. You’re in for an evening to remember, so go ahead and enjoy.
Music and Performing Arts
At the Coca-Cola Stage, you’ll be treated to a variety of performances by local and international artists. Make sure to check the schedule, as there are different performances every day during the Calgary Stampede.
As the official marching band of the Calgary Stampede, the Stampede Showband is an integral part to the event’s ambiance. From talented musicians to intricate choreography, the Showband’s performances are always a highlight of the Stampede. Enjoy their various parades and exhibitions that showcase instrumental music and performing arts!
The Young Canadians is a performing arts group made up of talented young people between the ages of 11 and 18. The group performs a variety of dance and musical numbers at the Stampede, showcasing the region’s cultural diversity.
If you’re into country music and dancing, Nashville North is the place to be. Here, you’ll find live country bands and a lively atmosphere for enjoying your favourite tunes. Grab your cowboy boots and hat, and enjoy your time at Nashville North.
The Big Four Roadhouse
The Big Four Roadhouse offers a unique mix of music, food, and drinks to suit every taste. You’ll find a diverse lineup of performances, from indie rock to electronic artists. No matter your preferred genre, be sure to check out the Big Four Roadhouse during your visit to the Stampede.
While not on the Stampede Grounds, the Cowboys Tent is where you want to be for the ultimate party atmosphere. With high-energy live performances and popular headliners, you’ll have a blast dancing the night away at the Cowboys Tent.
Fairgrounds and Midway
Carnival Rides and Games
Welcome to the heart of the Calgary Stampede: the Midway! Here, you’ll find thrilling rides and classic carnival games to entertain and challenge you. From family-friendly options to adrenaline-pumping experiences, there’s something for everyone. Make sure to try some of the new rides brought in, ranging from kiddie rides to the most extreme experiences.
Embrace the rich history and culture of the First Nations through the Stampede Powwow. Here, you can witness captivating performances that serve as a testament to the resilience of these communities. It’s a great opportunity for you to develop an appreciation for Canada’s indigenous roots, while embracing the beauty of diversity and the power of connection.
Elbow River Camp
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the Stampede, find serenity at the Elbow River Camp. This area showcases First Nations’ culture, heritage, and art amid beautiful nature. Here, you will learn about the rich history of the Indigenous people and engage in their traditional customs. Wander through the tipi village, watch traditional performances, and appreciate the talent and knowledge it has to offer.
Food and Concessions
A visit to the Stampede would not be complete without indulging in some delectable snacks and meals. The food offerings are as diverse and exciting as the event itself. From iconic treats like mini donuts and corn dogs to more adventurous options like unique poutine varieties, the Stampede will satisfy all your cravings. Don’t forget to check out various food stations and restaurants spread throughout the grounds.
Additional Events and Attractions
Kick off your Calgary Stampede experience by attending the spectacular Stampede Parade. Watch an amazing display of marching bands, colourful floats, and talented performers as they make their way through downtown Calgary. Be sure to arrive early to grab a good spot, and don’t forget your cowboy hat!
What better way to start your day than with a delicious pancake breakfast? During the Stampede, various venues around the city host free pancake breakfasts for you to enjoy. Dig into stacks of fluffy pancakes, drizzled with syrup, and accompanied by sizzling bacon and eggs. Keep an eye out for breakfast locations and schedules, so you don’t miss out on this tasty tradition.
Immerse yourself in the world of agriculture at the Calgary Stampede. Visit the various showcases, where you’ll have the chance to learn about livestock, farming, and the importance of agriculture in our daily lives. Experience the excitement of live auctions and sheep shearing demonstrations, or get up close and personal with adorable farm animals in the petting zoos. The Calgary Stampede invests heavily in their educational programming, and the agriculture zone is one example of that.
The Rodeo at the Calgary Stampede is your chance to witness some exhilarating rodeo events. With six main events, including crowd favourites like barrel racing and bull riding, along with $1.85 Million in prize money to be won, you’ll be mesmerized by the skill and quality of the competitors. In addition to the main events, you can also watch up-and-coming cowboys and cowgirls at the 4-H Rodeo.
Monster Energy Compound & Dog Bowl
Looking for some adrenaline-pumping action? You’ll love the monster energy compound, where you can catch incredible motocross exhibitions. Watch as talented riders fly high and perform jaw-dropping stunts that are sure to impress. For a change of pace, head to the Dog Bowl, where talented canine athletes demonstrate their agility and skills. It’s fun for the whole family!
Tucked away inside the BMO Centre inside the Calgary Stampede Grounds, you’ll find the Western Oasis, a destination that showcases a variety of arts and culture disciplines. Here, you can meet artists from across North America, purchase original artwork and photographs, or even catch some live music at the Window on the West Stage. For a break from the excitement, indulge yourself at the Wine Garden, where you can sip on a glass of your favourite vino.
Where to stay for the Calgary Stampede
Since the Calgary Stampede is a major event, accommodations tend to fill up quickly.
It’s a good idea to book your hotels or other bed and breadfasts well in advance to make sure your stay is comfortable.
You can find a variety of options, from budget-friendly hotels to luxury suites in the city- we personally liked the East Village since it was within walking distance. The area is quiet enough with a few cute coffee and ice cream shops around.
Alt Hotel East Village
Located near the Bow River with excellent views of the review and within walking distance of breweries, bars, and restaurants- Alt Hotel is close enough to the Stampede Grounds that you won’t really need a rental car. It is also a cute 5-6 min Uber ride for those long, hot days where you don’t want to walk.
Bonus: Chix, an excellent breakfast and lunch place is located right off the lobby. It’s definitely worth a visit. Their bowls are delicious and filling. They’re open till 3pm.
Phil and Sebastian is a cute coffee shop right across the street and a great spot to drop in for a quick pick me up.
Visiting the Stampede
The Calgary Stampede takes place for 10 days every July. In 2023, the dates are July 7-16. To fully enjoy this event, you should plan ahead and purchase your tickets in advance. You can buy general admission tickets at the three Park entrances or on the official website.
Additionally, consider getting rodeo, Evening Show, and concert tickets to experience all the fun and excitement the Stampede has to offer. The lineup to buy tickets can be very long at times so it’s better to buy your tickets in advance.
Note: Nashville North and Cowboys are not included in your entrance ticket.
When visiting the Stampede, keep in mind these handy tips to make your experience even better:
- Buy your tickets in advance: Purchasing your tickets in advance can save you money and time. You can buy general admission tickets at the three park entrances, but you should plan ahead by purchasing your rodeo, Evening Show, and concert tickets in advance.
- Arrive early: The Stampede grounds open at 11:00 am, but it is recommended that you arrive early to avoid long lines and crowds.
- Wear comfortable shoes: The Stampede grounds are large, and you will be doing a lot of walking. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes to avoid sore feet.
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and stay hydrated, as the weather can get hot in July.
- Bring some cash for food and games, although most vendors accept credit cards.
- Take advantage of the Stampede’s website and mobile app for up-to-date information, event schedules, and maps.
How to spend a day at the Calgary Stampede (A First Timer’s Guide)
While there are a ton of different ways to structure your day to get the most of our your time on Stampede Grounds, we’ve gone ahead a created an itinerary to take the planning part out of your hands.
- Start the day with a traditional FREE pancake breakfast: Fuel up for the exciting day ahead with a delicious pancake breakfast. Many venues throughout the city offer these breakfasts during the Stampede, serving up mouthwatering pancakes, sausages, and maple syrup.
- Experience the vibrant activities at Fluor Rope Square. From lion dancing to a daily flap jack flip contest, and Old Time Rigs’ Parade- there are more than enough activities to keep you entertained.
- Explore the Stampede grounds: Around 11 a.m., make your way to the Stampede grounds, the heart of the event. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as you navigate through exhibits, stalls, and various entertainment options. Take in the sights and sounds of the bustling crowds as you soak up the Stampede experience. Note: It’s best if you bought your ticket in advance.
- Hope over Elbow River Camp: Take a break from the excitement and enjoy a peaceful stroll along the beautiful Elbow River Camp and learn about Kainai, Piikani, Siksika, Stoney Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina First Nations of Treaty 7. This corner of the grounds serves as serene spot offers a picturesque backdrop for moment of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the Stampede, you can also pick up local artisan goodies from the vendors.
- Get your adrenaline pumping with thrilling rides: Dive into the exhilarating carnival rides at the Stampede. From towering roller coasters to exciting spinning attractions, there’s something for thrill-seekers of all ages. Don’t forget to enjoy the iconic Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the Stampede grounds.
- Food time- Indulge in a delicious lunch at one of the onsite restaurants. Treat your taste buds to a satisfying lunch at one of the many restaurants conveniently located within the Stampede grounds. From classic western delights to international cuisines, you’ll find a diverse range of dining options to suit every palate.
- Witness the thrilling rodeo action: At 1:30 p.m., make your way to the rodeo arena and experience the heart-pounding excitement of the rodeo competitions. Cheer on talented cowboys and cowgirls as they showcase their skills in events like bull riding, barrel racing, and roping.
- Grab a snack or indulge in an ice cream treat: After the adrenaline rush of the rodeo, take a moment to recharge with a quick snack or satisfy your sweet tooth with a delectable ice cream treat. Numerous food stands and vendors offer a wide array of tasty options to choose from.
- Test your skills at the games: Challenge yourself at the various game booths scattered throughout the Stampede grounds. From ring tosses to shooting galleries, these games offer a chance to win prizes and have some lighthearted fun.
- Discover the wonders of the Wild Oasis: Step into the enchanting world of the Wild Oasis, a dedicated area within the Stampede grounds that not only serves as hub for artist but provides a pocket for those who are looking in the hidden wine garden in the middle.
- Catch a show at the Coke Stage: Make your way to the Coke Stage in the evening and enjoy a live music performance by renowned artists. Dance, sing along, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere as you celebrate the spirit of the Stampede.
- Witness the thrilling chuck wagon races: Don’t miss the electrifying chuck wagon races, a Stampede tradition that showcases fast-paced competition as teams of horses pull wagons around a track. Feel the energy as the wagons thunder past, and cheer for your favorite team.
- Experience the talent of the Young Canadians: Attend a performance by the Young Canadians, a group of talented young performers who showcase their singing, dancing, and acrobatic skills in a captivating show. Be amazed by their talent and enthusiasm.
- End the day with a dazzling fireworks display: As night falls, find a cozy spot and prepare to be dazzled by a spectacular fireworks show. The colorful explosions will light up the night sky, providing a perfect finale to your unforgettable day at the Calgary Stampede.
Optional: Consider purchasing tickets to enjoy the vibrant nightlife at Nashville North or Cowboys, popular venues that offer live music, dancing, and a lively party atmosphere to continue the Stampede festivities late into the night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth going to the Calgary Stampede?
Absolutely! The Calgary Stampede is one of the biggest and most exciting events in Canada. With a wide range of shows, concerts, rodeos, and other attractions, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
What do I wear to the Calgary Stampede?
The Calgary Stampede is a western-themed event, so it’s a great opportunity to dress up in your best cowboy or cowgirl attire. Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Don’t forget to bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
When does the Calgary Stampede start and end?
The Calgary Stampede takes place for 10 days every July. The 2023 dates are July 7-16.
What are the hours for the Calgary Stampede?
The Stampede Park usually opens at 11:00 am and closes around midnight. However, some events may have different hours, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.
How can I make the most of my visit to the Calgary Stampede?
Plan ahead and buy your tickets in advance to avoid long lines. Take advantage of the Stampede’s free shuttle service to get around the park. Don’t miss the nightly fireworks show, and be sure to try some of the delicious food and drinks available at the Stampede. Finally, don’t forget to have fun and soak up the unique atmosphere of this amazing event!