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Calgary Stampede: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Biggest Outdoor Rodeo

Jul 21, 2023  

From towering high-rise condos that grace the city skyline to the serene tranquility of Calgary’s finest gated communities, living in Calgary is an absolute delight. The city boasts a plethora of cultural festivals and special events throughout the year, captivating both locals and visiting tourists. Two of the most significant annual festivals in Calgary are GlobalFest Calgary and the Calgary Stampede, with the latter earning the city its revered nickname, “Stampede City.” Here’s a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know before attending the world’s most massive outdoor rodeo.

What is the Calgary Stampede? “The Calgary Stampede” is a not-for-profit organization responsible for arranging and hosting the annual parade, rodeo, and other events surrounding the Stampede. This renowned rodeo and fair span ten days every summer, commencing on the first Friday of July. If this Friday coincides with Canada Day, the rodeo’s dates are shifted back by a week. Over one million people attend the Stampede each year, and the city comes alive with a vibrant and festive atmosphere during this period.

The Stampede commences with a spirited parade that meanders through Downtown Calgary. Throughout the celebration, Stampede Park hosts stage shows, agricultural exhibits, First Nations showcases, and free concerts every day. The rodeo action kicks off at 1:30 p.m. daily, and the evening show features thrilling events such as chuck wagon races and awe-inspiring fireworks displays.

How Can I Attend the Calgary Stampede?
Getting to the Stampede can be accomplished by driving to the grounds and parking in one of the 17 designated parking lots. General admission parking for personal cars weighing no more than one tonne is available at $25. Oversized vehicles, animal trailers, and RVs are not permitted in general admission parking. If visitors leave with their vehicle and return, they will need to purchase another parking spot. General admission parking is primarily available in the lots directly north of the Stampede grounds.
Reserved parking spots are also available for $50 per day or $500 for the entire 10-day event, with Lot 8 reserved specifically for handicap-accessible parking.

Alternatively, public transportation provides easy access to the Stampede grounds. Stampede Park is conveniently situated between the Erlton and Victoria Park CTrain stations. Calgary’s city bus service runs along Macleod Trail and 12 Avenue SE, bordering the west and north sides of the fairgrounds. Downloading the My Fare app on Android or iPhone facilitates ticket purchases and seamless travel on the CTrain to the Calgary Stampede.

Calgary Stampede Rodeo What is the Calgary Stampede Rodeo? The Calgary Stampede Rodeo spans ten days of exhilarating championship rodeo action, culminating in the ultimate championships on the final Sunday of the event. Competitors from all over Canada and the US must qualify before participating in the Stampede, where they have the chance to win over $1.5 million in yearly prize money. The Rodeo commences daily at 1:30 p.m. during the Stampede, and advance tickets for either the Rodeo or the evening show include admission to Stampede Park on that day.

Stampede ticket prices vary based on proximity to the action at GMC Stadium. Tickets for seats in the highest sections of the west stands start at $66 per person, while front and center tickets in the west stands are priced at $129. Tickets for seats in the North and South Infield sections on the stadium’s eastern side are available for as much as $320. Given the popularity of Finals events at the Stampede, it is recommended to purchase tickets in advance to secure the best seats.
The Calgary Stampede attracts some of the finest competitors from around the world, both human and animal. The rodeo showcases a thrilling lineup of events over the ten days, including:

    Barrel racing
    Bull riding
    Tie-down roping
    Steer wrestling
    Saddle bronc riding
    Bareback riding

Calgary Stampede Parade The Calgary Stampede Parade marks the commencement of the festivities each year. This captivating parade spans several blocks of Downtown Calgary, commencing at 9:00 a.m. on the first Friday of the Stampede. The parade route begins on 9 Avenue between City Hall and the Calgary Tower, heading westbound. It then turns north on 10 Street, loops back to the east on 6 Avenue, and heads towards Stampede Park.

To watch the parade, the CTrain, running along 7 Avenue in Calgary, offers convenient access from every stop in the Downtown area, merely one or two blocks away from the parade route. Taking the train, cycling, or walking are the best ways to reach Downtown and witness the parade. All parking garages and streets near the parade route are blocked off starting at 6 a.m. and do not reopen until 2:00 p.m, making it advisable to avoid parking too close to the route to prevent getting stuck until the streets reopen.

The parade showcases over 150 floats, numerous marching bands and organizations, magnificent horses pulling wagons, and esteemed dignitaries. Downtown Calgary’s condos offer excellent overhead views of this grand spectacle. Each year, a different Parade Marshal is selected to lead the parade, with notable past Marshals including William Shatner, Bing Crosby, and Walt Disney.

A Celebration for All Ages The Calgary Stampede caters to people of all ages, providing a diverse array of events suitable for various demographics.

Families with children will delight in the kid-friendly offerings at the Calgary Stampede. The BMO Kids’ Zone is a haven for children aged 12 and under, featuring face painting, inflatable bounce houses, and a massive multi-level playground. Additionally, kids will be enthralled by the Dog Bowl, where canine athletes showcase amazing tricks and stunts.

All Ages:
Visitors of all ages can partake in the First Nations cultural exhibit at the Elbow River Camp, featuring tipis, works by local artisans, dancing, and other captivating performances. For those seeking adrenaline-pumping entertainment, the Freestyle Motocross offers thrilling stunts at high speeds, while the Coca-Cola Stage hosts free world-class country music and rock concerts every day of the Stampede.

The Calgary Stampede Evening Show stands as one of the most anticipated highlights each year. Held in the same stadium as the rodeo, this evening spectacle begins with chuckwagon races at 7:45 p.m., followed by the Bell Grandstand Show, a jaw-dropping pyrotechnic extravaganza. Each evening culminates with a spectacular fireworks display within the arena. Tickets for the Evening Show range from $88 to $142 each.

Adults Only:
For adult-only entertainment, the Cowboys Casino at Stampede Park offers cocktails, table games, slot machines, sports betting, and poker.
Experience the Thrills of the Calgary Stampede Calgary’s allure lies in the variety of cultural events and festivals it hosts. The Calgary Stampede remains a citywide celebration, requiring the efforts of over 2,500 dedicated volunteers working tirelessly to bring it to life. Visitors and locals alike agree that attending the Stampede is well worth the admission price. From the unforgettable championship rodeo action to the captivating parade and awe-inspiring fireworks displays, there’s something for everyone at the Calgary Stampede!

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