Calgary Stampede

Hey y’all!

Or something western and cowboyish. Since the first show in 1912 with sixty thousand visitors the Calgary Stampede has tried to maintain its billing as ‘the greatest outdoor show on Earth’. These days the 10 day rodeo in early July attracts over a million visitors in a mix of fun fair deep fried food and traditional cowboy competitions.

Mounties ahoy!

The Stampede kicks off at 9am on the first friday with a large parade complete with over 700 horses and several thousand participants. If you head down there early enough you’ll also get to enjoy the free pancake breakfasts laid out in downtown’s Olympic Plaza. To help ease down the mapley goodness you don’t need to waddle far to experience great live music, aboriginal dancing, square dancing and mock shootouts. Even though the majority of events take place in the center, heading out you will find that the whole city will have their own mini festivals going on for the duration. These will last long into the night, often spilling over into the next morning when the whole thing kicks off again!

Hat’s, hat’s and hat’s.

For the best place to see the central hub of events head into the Stampede Park (usually home to the Calgary Flames). Here you’ll find an amusment park, restaurants, stalls and a whole heap of stalls. The park entrance when we visited in 2014 was $16. The Rodeo was around $25 extra and I cannot begin to explain how much you have to go! This competition goes on for almost 6 hours in the Stampede Park grandstand but I warn you, get tickets early! You can buy them on the day but the seats aren’t likely to be very good.

Top Tips!:

Take sunscreen and an umbrella or hat for shade – there’s little around!
Don’t forget your ID as the most fun to be had is in the Nashville North Beer tent.
Book accomodation early! Hotels get very expensive around that time so consider couch surfing.
Food is expensive here. Take a packed lunch for some main food and snack on those deep fried Oreos!

I knew VERY little about the Stampede my first year in Banff and when I finally went I’m not sure what I expected – think a normal fair back home but 5 times the size and 5 times the prices. Growing up in England I always assumed that the world of cowboys was a Hollywood cliche but there’s so much empty flat space here that you begin to realise that cowboys are REAL… all those huge farms you see are run by people who wear the boots, jeans and plaid shirts everyday.

Deep fried Oreo’s. Nom!

Anywho, deep fried oreo’s, corndogs, candyfloss, horses, cows, hay everywhere…. felt pretty Candian with a strange Texan influence. Have fun, Y’all!