The “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” attracts over 1.2 million visitors each year — 1.2 million visitors who come for the cowboys, but stay for the shows, music, and spectacle.
The Calgary Stampede is more than just a rodeo, so we’ve gathered our favorite 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. If you’ve never heard of such a thing, fret not — it’s exactly what it sounds like. Hop from location to location around the city and chow down on fresh flapjacks. 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 favorites like barrel racing and bull riding — you’ll immerse yourself in the cowboy spirit and be left totally gob smacked 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 girls at the 4-H Rodeo.
Take in a show
Besides the rodeo events, the Stampede is chock-full of entertainment — most notably, a variety of amazing shows. The TransAlta Grandstand Show is a true standout that features everything from singing, to acrobatics, to fireworks. Looking for a different view? Find a nice patch of grass on the nearby hill and take in the fireworks. Daytime entertainment revolves around a dog show that will make you appreciate your 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. Right down the way 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 some top-notch music and performances. Stop by the Coca-Cola Stage for free shows that feature today’s top artists, or two-step over to Nashville North to take in your favorite country tunes. If big names are really your thing, the Virgin Mobile Stampede Concert Series is sure to please, showcasing the Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, and Jeff Dunham on 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.
Win big at the Midway
Whether you’re after the thrill of a coaster or an over-sized stuffed animal, the classic carnival vibes of the midway will surely draw you in. Ride high above the grounds of Stampede Park on the big wheel, then try your luck at one of many Midway games. And if you’re tired after playing, stop by one of the many innovative (and often insane) food stands for a mini donut popsicle or foot-long pizza dog.
Live the creative cowboy life
At the Western Oasis, you’ll be able to explore the chill side of Western living. Think art, music, food, and wine, all in a tranquil garden setting. Yes, there is tranquility 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 get fed up at the cook-off between the Calgary Police Service and Calgary Fire Department.
Drum up an appetite for First Nations culture
Twenty-six tipis punctuate this equally tranquil spot at the Calgary Stampede. An extremely important aspect of the Stampede each year, the Indian Village is nestled along the Elbow River and gives you insight into the rich history of the First Nations people of the region. Enjoy tours of the tipis, chow down on freshly made bannock, 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 zucchini. 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.