Downtown Calgary as viewed from the Elbow River, in the SW neighbourhood of Mission. Located near the Stampede Grounds, this part of town, along with Downtown and the Beltline, are ground zero for folks partaking and celebrating the Calgary Stampede.
For tourists visiting Alberta from outside Canada, when Calgary is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is its most famous festival, the Stampede. For over 100 years, this event, starting out simply as a rodeo, has come to define the city, to the chagrin of some. Despite the mixed feelings that some people have for this event, it is still one heck of a party and deserving of the moniker “The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth”. Here’s what a day in the life of the Calgary Stampede looks like…
Throngs of people stroll the Stampede Grounds, eating the food, enjoying the rides, and taking in the musical acts. Just over 1,000,000 people go through the turnstiles every year, testifying to the popularity of this well-loved festival.
As if all these traditional trappings of a fair weren’t enough to elevate your excitement level, how about … a wandering marching band? This is the Stampede, remember…
Had enough of the outdoors, or maybe the weather isn’t playing nice? Come indoors and sample some of the attractions located inside the many building on the Stampede Grounds. Like country music? Head to Nashville North, where a nonstop cast of musicians roll on and off stage every day (and beer never stops flowing…) Wanna sample some fine food? Head over to Western Oasis, where you’ll find plenty of elevated treats, along with some excellent wines that pair perfectly with them!
Or, if you are fortunate enough to witness this spectacle as I did during the 2012 Stampede, slap some board shorts on, get wet, and ride some waves more than 1,000 kilometres from the sea on the Flowrider…
After all that activity, it gets better still. Many of Canada’s leading and up and coming acts are attracted to the Stampede’s free stage every year, so you can find yourself a spot on the lawn and listen to the musical stylings of bands such as The Trews for $0 (well, it’s included in the price of your ticket but c’mon … keep up the illusion here!) 😛
After all this, if you still have the energy, head off the grounds and partake of the many offsite parties throughout urban Calgary that are all well-attended by the locals. Even during the week. Seriously. Many people get little or no work done during these ten days, as the city grinds to a near halt. The Stampede is that big of an event, guys. If you attend one festival during your time in Western Canada, make time for the Stampede.
Just be sure to book well in advance, as places as far as an hour outside the city can disappear months before the event.
After you tie up all your loose ends, pack your ten-gallon hat, your Alberta-sized belt buckle, and start practicing your Yahoo! … you’re headed to one of the greatest public celebrations in Canada!
Have you ever been to the Stampede? Share your experiences below!