I can’t believe this was over a month ago already and I’m only just getting round to writing about it. I had the best time and would definitely go again. The Stampede is what makes Calgary famous, well there’s not much else to do there. It lasts for 10 days during July. It even calls itself the greatest outdoor show in the world. That alone must make you want to go next year.
I really didn’t know what to expect, I wanted tacky cowboys and delicious food trucks. I was not disappointed. I have never seen so many cowboy hats and boots. Some guys pulled the boots off, some didn’t. And the food was so varied but they all had one thing in common, deep fried.
So from Vancouver, you can fly or drive. Victoria and I opted for a 1 hour and a half flight rather than a 10+ hour drive. Also Uber operates in Calgary so it is super easy to get from the airport to where to you need to be (without a big price tag). We got delayed so took an Uber straight to the Stampede to catch the evening show.
We were greeted with a huge line up to get into the Stampede grounds. Luckily we were through the gates in no time, as they quickly checked tickets and bags. We sped through the grounds and found our seat in the grandstand. The evening show is a series of chuckwagon races, followed by a huge performance on a stage that is wheeled out by an even bigger tractor. Oh and then fireworks, a lot of fireworks.
I had no idea what was happening when the chuckwagon races was on but it was fun to watch. The show was the most random thing I have ever seen but it was obvious how much effort was put into it. The night ended with a massive firework display. Pretty impressive start to my stay in Calgary. The evening ticket was $59, (plus Ticketmaster’s rip off fees) it includes your entry to the Stampede grounds.
Whilst in Calgary we used the C-Train, or a tram. During the 10 days of the Stampede, it runs 24/7 which is great as we were staying out of the city centre. It is also at a reduced rate, just $6.50 for a full day. What a way to welcome guests, cheap transit! It was just one line to our hotel, I hate having to change or use various methods of public transport so it suited us perfectly.
Our only full day in Calgary was spent exploring every inch of the Stampede grounds. We watched the rodeo show at the grandstand. It didn’t blow me away and I will admit, I nearly fell asleep. It just didn’t grab my attention the way the evening show did. Victoria and I decided to leave early and just walk around the grounds, eating and catching the free shows. The rodeo cost $39 which also includes your entry to the Stampede, so overall not too bank breaking.
We rode on the Skyride, a chair lift which runs from one side of the grounds to the other. This is great for getting a birds eye view of the place. It is so relaxing too, yet you can see the chaos unravelling below. We saw a miniature horse show, experienced a fake auction (think Storage Hunters), wandered round the animal barn, watched an adrenaline motor show, ate a lot of deep fried food and browsed very expensive Cowboy boot stalls.
The dog show needs its only little paragraph. I’ve developed this love for dogs since being in Vancouver. I’ve always liked dogs but never wanted one of my own, until now. So when I saw a free dog show on the schedule, I needed to see it. It was produced by Canine Stars and it was fab. The doggie stars did tricks, relay races and jumps. The host really got the crowd going and the dogs were adorable. I found a promo trailer on YouTube.
The only thing we didn’t do much of was drinking. It was hot, over 30℃ and a very long day. The heat and walking all day was draining so we didn’t consume hardly any alcohol. If you wanted to get drunk drunk then it would have cost you an arm and leg. It was ridiculous money for a small can of Palm Bay (which is barely alcohol).
The Calgary Stampede has a big thumbs up from me. I loved it and I would definitely go back. I urge you all to go at least once in your lifetime. Get your cowboy hat and boots ready!