City Meets Country: 10 Things to Do During the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede is more than just a rodeo. The self-proclaimed “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” attracts over 1.2 million visitors each year—people who might come for the cowboys but stay for the shows, music, and spectacle.
We’ve gathered our favourite 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, and if you’ve never heard of such a thing don’t worry—it’s exactly what it sounds like! Go from location to location around the city and chomp down on fresh-flipped pancakes. 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 favourites like barrel racing and bull riding—you’ll immerse yourself in the cowboy spirit and be left totally gobsmacked 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 cowgirls at the 4-H Rodeo.
Take in a show
Besides the rodeo events, the Stampede is chock-full of entertainment—most notably, the variety of its amazing live shows. The TransAlta Grandstand Show is a true fan favourite and features everything from chuckwagons and singing, to acrobatics and fireworks. Looking for a budget-friendly alternative to scoring a grandstand ticket? Find a patch of grass on a nearby hill and take in the fireworks. Daytime shows include the ENMAX Corral Show a variety show-style spectacle and a dog show that will make you appreciate your furry best friend’s abilities more than ever.
Amp up your adrenaline
If living on the edge is your jam, 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
Nothing says "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth" like top-notch live music and performances. Stop by the Coca-Cola Stage for free shows which feature 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
Forget being a part of the audience, hop on stage and be a part of the Stampede Talent Search, where you can sing, dance, or perform your way to over $15,000 in prizes. Got a bit of stage fright? These 6–21-year-old superstars will put on a great show for you to enjoy in 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. Make sure you stop by one of the many innovative—and often totally crazy—food stands for a mini doughnut ice lolly or foot-long pizza hot dog.
Live the creative cowboy life
Admire those creative cowboys and cowgirls at the Western Oasis, where you’ll be able to explore the relaxed side of Western living. Think art, music, food, and wine, all in a tranquil garden setting. Yes, there is tranquillity 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—and a buffet— 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. An extremely important part of the Stampede each year, the First Nations Village is nestled along the Elbow River and gives you 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—and they aren’t just about giant marrow competitions! Stop by the Donkey Showcase, visit llamas, cows, and horses, then take a barn tour to cap it all off.
One million people can’t be wrong. The Calgary Stampede will immerse you in the vibrancy of the city and the rich history of both First Nations and cowboy culture. Time to saddle up and explore.