For 10 days each July, more than a million people take part in the Calgary Stampede: donning cowboy hats, western boots and jeans in a celebration reminiscent of the Old West. The world’s richest tournament-style rodeo is at the heart of this event, but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s been dubbed the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and it’s been going on in Calgary, Alberta for more than a century. Here are some of the basics.
The Calgary Stampede is popular with locals, Albertans and visitors from all over the world. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for international visitors, while many locals look forward to Stampeding every year.
The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth preserves and celebrates Western heritage. It features one of the world’s best rodeos, a parade, a fair-ground midway, food, concerts and stage shows, agricultural exhibitions and competitions, and an Indigenous village. The entire city joins the party. Stampede spirit becomes almost tangible. You’ll find music, free pancake breakfasts, events and celebrations throughout Calgary. Even the most straight-laced businessmen swap their suits for cowboy jeans and boots when it’s Stampede time.
In the shadow of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is a vibrant, multicultural city with a bustling dining and arts scene. The official festival is held annually at Stampede Park in downtown Calgary and features 208 acres of exhibits, rides, dining, and rodeo fun. But the entire city gets into the celebration. Throughout downtown, and in most communities throughout the city, you’ll find music, parties and celebrations, capped by the famous free pancake breakfasts.
The 10-day event is held every July. In 2017, the Stampede will run from July 7-16.
The Calgary Stampede began as a way to preserve and celebrate the ranching and cowboy heritage of southern Alberta, and has grown since then into an important community and cultural event. It is North America's premier rodeo and western festival and a unique western experience for the world to enjoy.
Five can’t-miss parts of the Calgary Stampede
Rodeo: The famous rodeo attracts the world’s top cowboys and cowgirls. Catch your breath watching cowboys struggle to stay on the back of an angry bull, and talented riders race around intricate courses marked by barrels. Feel the ground tremble as 36 drivers and 216 horses compete in the nightly chuckwagon races, the signature event of the Calgary Stampede. End the day with the thrilling grandstand show and spectacular nightly fireworks.
Agriculture exhibits: Calgary’s first agricultural fair took place in 1886, and in 1923 the Stampede and the fair merged. You can watch such competitions as stock dog trials and the heavy horse pull, or just see the livestock. The Agrium Western Event Centre in Stampede Park also has interpretive displays about agriculture sustainability.
Indian Village: Step into the past by entering an authentic teepee, the traditional shelter for southern Alberta’s indigenous people. Meet members of the five Treaty 7 nations native to southern Alberta and learn about First Nations culture and traditions. Dance competitions, storytelling, games, a booth selling traditional bannock bread and other activities make a visit to the 26 teepees in the village memorable and fun.
Entertainment: One of Canada’s largest music festivals, the Calgary Stampede features numerous musical performances from established and emerging artists in a variety of genres, both at Stampede Park and around the city. There’s also an onsite midway featuring rollercoasters, amusement-park rides, games of chance and a vast array of unusual and interesting entertainment.
International Pavilion: Canada is a diverse country filled with people from many cultures. These cultures are celebrated in the international pavilion where you’ll find an global street market and a community stage where you can watch dancers and performers from various cultures and community groups.
- Western Culture