First Timer at Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede: The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth July 7th-16th, 2017
Dusted off my cowgirl boots and saddled up for Stampede in Calgary, Alberta! This is truly an enormous 10 day outdoor event with amazing concerts, outrageous foods, huge beer tents, cowboy hats, rodeo's and more! As a first time visitor I found Stampede to be a unique and fabulous time that everyone should do at least once! If you are a future traveler to the Calgary Stampede I am sharing what I learned from my first experience!
Entering Stampede Park
Tickets to visit the Stampede grounds are easy to purchase at the main entrances during Stampede. General admission tickets may also be purchased online (for an additional service charge) through the Calgary Stampede website.
Hotels and Parking
Book your hotel in advance because they book up quick! We stayed at the beautiful Westin Calgary, which was wonderfully located in downtown Calgary, close to the Stampede grounds. There are many other hotel options, you just have to check what fits your budget: Fairfield Inn and Suites, Calgary Marriott Downtown, and Hilton Garden Inn are a few hotels that are geographically close.
Westin Calgary: 320 4th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB, T2P 2S6, Canada • Phone: (403) 266-1611
I would advise against parking at the grounds, which will save you $20-$30. The C Train has a stop right outside Stampede and I believe this is you best value option.
Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Races
If you plan to see the rodeo events, Chuckwagon races, the evening Grandstand show, or concerts, it's best to purchase tickets online in advance; these tickets also include admission to the Stampede grounds. Multiple ticket packages are also available which include admission to other local attractions, such as Canada Olympic Park or Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (ticket sales begin in October). We were lucky enough to get amazing seats to the Chuckwagon races which also allowed us entry into the grounds at noon. Being a first timer, I have never seen nor knew Chuckwagon races existed. Originating at the Calgary Stampede over 90 years ago 3 Chuckwagon teams race head- to head in front of a large audience in the Stampede Grandstand. It was such an exciting event and I recommend the event if you have never participated.
Following the event, there was an incredible stage show with dancing, multicultural experiences and even a man crossing a flaming tight-rope on a bicycle. Proceeding were the nightly fireworks, which was an amazing end to the night!
Unusual Eats Found in the Midway
You cannot help but smell the amazing foods while walking through the midway. More than just the smells, I couldn't help but notice patrons walking around with some interesting food options as we strolled the grounds
Deep Fried Coffee
Meter Long Sausage
Maple Bacon Donuts
Bacon Mac and Cheese Hot Dog
Jalapeno Corn Dog
Cheetos Ear of Corn
Canadian Bacon Pickle Balls
Deep Fried Jello
The local Calgary Bars set up huge tent areas surrounding Stampede Park. These tents are enormous with fabulous beer drinking, dancing, live concert events and more! Go to an ATM prior to going to the tent to save yourself the transaction fee. Also, have a plan because these tents have weekly events that sell out!
Cowboys Tent: This tent was the most entertaining with concerts like Chainsmokers, Diplo, Fetty Wap and Thomas Rhett. There were food trucks available, $7.50 beers, VIP areas and a large stage. Follow Cowboys website to get concert information, because they have multiple giveaways and a lot of these shows sell out.
Knoxville's Tent: Located off the backside of Knoxville's Bar is one of the biggest tents around. Providing great live music, but long lines inside and outside at times.
Ranchman's Tent: Located on the back of Rachman's bar. They had live music and a spacious area to move around.
Wild Horse Tent: Conveniently located between Stampede and The Westin Hotel, this spot offers private events for companies during the day and great music at night.
Nashville North: This tent is the only tent free of charge and inside the grounds. Sponsored by Jack Daniels and Budweiser; they had bandana giveaway, line dancing lessons, airbrush tattoos and live local and national performances!
Outside the Grounds
All the local bars and restaurants are ready for the masses to stop in and enjoy what they have to offer. We decided to take a day off an head out to Saskatoon Farms for lunch. About 25 minutes from the city this cute area is a relaxing getaway from the Stampede hustle (first 3 pictures). With light shopping, saskatoon berry picking, and a small restaurant; this is a nice change of pace. Another night we headed over to the beautiful Prince's Island, which is within walking distance of the Stampede grounds. This beautiful spot is right in the middle of the park with fantastic food and a great view of the city-scape ( bottom 2 right pictures). Also, had some appetizers and a drink at Cactus Club in Downtown Calgary. This spot was a great happy hour crowd with fabulous food as well.
Saskatoon Farms: 80181 338 Ave E, De Winton, AB T0L 0X0
River Cafe: 25 Prince's Island, Calgary, AB T2P 0R1
Cactus Club: 317 7 Ave SW #178, Calgary, AB T2P 2Y9
Dress the Part
This was the hardest part to plan for, but if you have jeans, a plaid shirt and cowboy boots you will be set! Inside the grounds there are a lot of native pieces, cowboy hats and attire for purchase.