The Calgary Stampede officially started back in 1912, and has turned into one of the greatest spectacles in North America. It has evolved from humble beginnings into a ten day festival that includes top musicians (think Tiesto, Nelly, Brett Kissel), rodeos, fireworks, acrobat shows, and unparalleled partying.
We sent four of our staff members to the Calgary Stampede to bring you the activities you have to try when you go!
During our five night stay in Calgary, the city was overflowing with people from all over the world. What really struck us was how friendly everyone was. It’s an atmosphere you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
Without further ado, here are the top things to do at the Calgary Stampede!
1. Check out a party tent
Now this was a surprise. When we got to downtown Calgary, there were a whole bunch of massive tents (that fit thousands of people) set up in various locations. Each tent usually had a stage with live performances, and alcohol was flowing freely.
We were able to party in these tents and catch live performances from Kaskade, DJ Pauly D, Snoop Dog, and Kip Moore.
One thing to note is that people tend to show up EARLY for these tents. If you’re not in line by 9PM, then you might be in for a 45min+ wait to get in. Once you’re in though, these tents are fantastic!
One final LPT (life pro tip) on the tents is that it is better to go the first weekend of stampede than the second weekend. The reason is that people tend to party pretty hard in them, and some will inevitably puke. The tent staff do their best to clean things up, but when you have hot weather and puke remnants on the ground it tends to not smell great.
2. Try out the food. Seriously you have to.
Tokyo street dog? Check. Cotton candy mini-doughnuts? Check. Hawaiin pulled pork sandwich? Check.
Welcome to the Midway on the stampede grounds.
This area of the stampede grounds is dedicated to food trucks with delicious offerings from all over the world. The Midway is the perfect spot to recharge and relax after powering through the stampede grounds.
A quick warning though…the prices are pretty high and you’ll likely need to spend about $30 to get full.
3. Hang out on Stephen Ave., 10th Ave., and 17th Ave.
It took us an embarrassing amount of time before we realized this, but Calgary roads are structured in a numbered grid that makes it very easy to navigate. “Avenues” go east-west and “Streets” go north-south.
There are also four quadrants to the city so make sure you know which one you’re looking for (eg. 1st Street and 12th Avenue NE can be a long ways away from 1st Street and 12th Avenue SE).
The three main downtown areas where all of the action is are Stephen Avenue (which is also known as 8th Avenue), 10th Avenue, and 17th Avenue. These are all within walking distance of each other, and has a plethora of cool bars, tasty restaurants, and crowds of stampeders.
We recommend checking out National on 8th Avenue, Craft on 10th Avenue, and the Ship and Anchor on 17th Avenue. You can’t really go wrong during stampede though as every bar gets supercharged with a great atmosphere.
4. Hit the Stampede grounds and catch a show at the Corral
The Stampede Corral is one of the buildings on the grounds, and hosts some of the more unique shows. All shows here are included with the price of admission!
We were able to catch the Dog Bowl and an amazing show called “Light Balance”. Here’s a trailer for this show – we highly recommend it!
5. Catch a free concert at the Coke stage
The Coca-Cola stage is on the stampede grounds, and all performances are included with the price of your admission.
The stage actually has some great performers when considering that you don’t have to pay extra to see them! We were able to catch shows by T-Pain, Mother Mother, Dashboard Confessional, and Chromeo.
The big artists tend to play at night so you’ll have to commit to staying on the grounds late. This can be a good thing though as they have fireworks every night after the show!