I’ve had the Calgary Stampede on my bucket list for some time now and I can finally tick it off, thanks to the good folks at Travel Alberta, who flew me from L.A. to Calgary to experience it. As an added bonus, I got to fly Air Canada’s rouge for the first time for the 2.5-hour flight. Have you flown Air Canada rouge before? Either way, here are 10 things to know about flying Air Canada rouge.

When I landed in Calgary, I quickly cleared immigration (if you travel to Canada often, apply for a NEXUS card), then hopped in a taxi to downtown Calgary which took about 25 minutes and cost $45 including tip. FYI: You can take a town car for roughly $10 more.

I checked into Hotel Arts, which is a designer boutique-style hotel and just a few blocks from the Stampede. Following check-in, I walked several blocks to Centre Street for dinner. I went to Charcut and tried their poutine deep fried in duck fat (which was quite delicious), as I waited for my wife’s flight to land.

The Calgary Stampede is called The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth and after spending a day there, I can see why. It takes place every July for 10 days and to my surprise, it’s not just a rodeo. This event is like a State Fair with a rodeo.

At Calgary Stampede, you’ll find every kind of food imaginable, from Texas BBQ to Scorpion pizza. That’s right, pizza with farm raised scorpions sprinkled on top ($10 a slice). They also have pretty much anything you can think of deep fried … from deep fried sushi to deep fried butter. Yes, BUTTER! See my pics below, which include deep fried Oreos, Twinkies, and of course the famous mini donuts.

There are plenty of activities too like amusement park rides and games. I rode a mechanical bull and listened to some country music. They bring in all kinds of bands including superstars like Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and Keith Urban.

I was shocked at how big the Calgary Stampede is and how many people come through their doors. On average, about 100,000 people visit a day and the Saturday before I arrived saw 160,000 visitors! Park hours are from 11am to midnight and it costs $16 for adults and $8 for seniors, (65+) and kids (7-12). Kids under 6 get in for free.

The Calgary Stampede is a fun and exciting place to be for locals and tourists alike. If it’s on your list for next summer, here are 10 things to know before you go:

1. Don’t break in new cowboy boots
If you don’t already own a pair of broken in cowboy boots, wear something else. It’s a bad idea to buy a brand new pair and try to break them in while you’re walking the extensive grounds of Stampede. Your feet will be killing you. You’ll likely do a lot of walking so make sure you’re comfortable.


2. Wear a white cowboy hat
You don’t have to wear cowboy boots but you will want to wear a cowboy hat. White is the traditional color for the Calgary Stampede and you can buy them all over the city, including at the Stampede itself. From what I saw, prices mostly started at around $29 CAD ($27 USD).

3. Wear sunscreen
Although you might think of Calgary as being cold, as it is in the winter, it will most likely be hot and sunny during July. The day before I was there it was 96F. But the day I was in town the temperature ranged from 58-82F. Here’s the 10-day Calgary weather forecast.

4. Stay hydrated
Calgary is 3,438 feet above sea level so the air is dry and thin, which is why it’s important to stay hydrated … and I’m not talking about beer and cocktails, though most adults at Stampede do seem to hydrate that way. Drink plenty of water.

5. Come hungry
After seeing all my food photos below, you will understand why you should make sure you’re hungry when you visit. Here are descriptions and pictures of some of this year’s fun food.


6. Buy tickets in advance
If you buy your tickets in advance for concerts, it will include the gate admission so that right there saves you $16. FYI: If you are going with a large group (20 or more guests), let them know in advance and you will receive a 10% discount for Rodeo or Evening Show tickets (call 403-269-9822).


7. Go on value days
During the 10-day festival, there are three value days: Family day is the first Sunday, Tuesday is Heritage (Senior) day and Wednesday is kids day. Here’s the link for what each entails but most include free admission.


8. Spend two days at the Stampede
Most visitors will want to spend two days at the Stampede because it’s so huge. I can understand, though I was happy and tired after one. My only regret was that we didn’t spend a full day so we ended up missing the chuck wagon races, which take place at night and are supposed to be loads of fun.


9. Find air conditioning
The Stampede is outdoors, not indoors like I imagined. On those really hot days, go to the BMO tent to find air conditioning. It’s a chance to cool down and refuel for your next round.


10. Bring a zoom lens
If you are into taking photos and want to get some great rodeo pictures, then I suggest either buying, borrowing or renting a zoom lens so you can get photos like the one I took above. There’s lots to see and you’re sure to get some amazing photos so be prepared!

Future Stampede Dates
As you can see, the Calgary Stampede is barrels of fun and I would definitely go back. I’m not sure if it requires multiple visits but I can see why it’s on most people’s bucket list. You obviously missed the 2014 Calgary Stampede but here are the future Stampede dates:

  • July 3-12, 2015
  • July 8-17, 2016
  • July 7-16, 2017
  • July 6-15, 2018
  • July 5-14, 2019

Good to know: The Calgary Stampede is the world’s richest tournament-style rodeo. It doesn’t count towards the participants’ PRCA‘s world standings because the organizers fly in all the cowboys, put them and their families up, and offer the most money out of any rodeo.

You know the saying “this isn’t my first rodeo?” Well, this was my first rodeo and I hope it’s not my last.

Arriving to the Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede
Food section of the Calgary Stampede
Food catalog from the Calgary Stampede
Deep fried everything
Deep fried pies from the Calgary Stampede
Deep fried butter
Mini donuts from the Calgary Stampede
Deep fried Twinkie from the Calgary Stampede
Deep fried Reeses Peanut Butter Cups from the Calgary Stampede
Deep fried Oreos from the Calgary Stampede
Deep fried Snickers from the Calgary Stampede
Deep fried Mac N Cheese from the Calgary Stampede
What's for dinner at the Calgary Stampede
Scorpion Pizza from the Calgary Stampede
Scorpion Pizza from the Calgary Stampede
Bacon wrapped corn on the cob from the Calgary Stampede
Turkey legs from the Calgary Stampede
Johnny Jet and Natalie at the Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
A family enjoying the Calgary Stampede
Winning a bandana
Amusement park rides at the Calgary Stampede
Skyride at the Calgary Stampede
I can't believe people eat these
A rodeo clown Behind-the-scenes Rodeo Chute Tour at the Calgary Stampede
Crowd at the Calgary Stampede
R.C.M.P. at the Calgary Stampede
R.C.M.P. at the Calgary Stampede
R.C.M.P. at the Calgary Stampede
R.C.M.P. at the Calgary Stampede
R.C.M.P. at the Calgary Stampede
R.C.M.P. at the Calgary Stampede
R.C.M.P. at the Calgary Stampede
Start of the Calgary Stampede rodeo
Start of the Calgary Stampede rodeo
Start of the Calgary Stampede rodeo
Cowboys in the Calgary Stampede
Start of the Calgary Stampede rodeo
Johnny Jet

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

19 Comments On "10 Tips for First-Timers to Calgary Stampede"
  1. Joy|

    What great tips – super useful article, thank you. We are sooo excited to our visit to the Stampede!

  2. janet|

    good tips

  3. ken|

    great information, looking forward to the stampede we are coming from the uk to see the spectacle

    1. Lynda Stables|

      Hi Ken, We are from the UK also and we are planning a visit to Canada and the Calgary stamped in 2019 for my 60th. Have you an tips as you have already done it,
      also any recommendations on what to do /see/ stay would be welcome.
      Thank you in anticipation.

    2. Richard Bolshaw|

      We’re heading there in 2019 from the UK. Any updated tips? Planning a week in the City, too much, not enough etc?

      1. Johnny Jet|

        I would head out to Banff since you just need 2-3 days in the city.

  4. Anonymous|

    Thank you so much for this information, I cant wait to go this year.

  5. Brad|

    What’s not mentioned here is that there are free breakfast, lunches and bbq’s all over the city put on by local businesses. (Often include free alcohol) Some are by invite, some are open to the public.
    Lots of pancakes in the morning and incredible bbq in the afternoon.
    Also, as a local, we really appreciate people coming to have fun, but being respectful and mindful to our home. Some people really get out of hand.
    Don’t forget to enjoy the fireworks and the core stage. ( Concerts that are included with just paying park admission)

    Welcome and happy stampeding!

  6. Brad|

    Sorry, that should read coke stage, not core.

  7. Leo|

    just got back:


  8. Rosalind Liew|

    Thank you for these great tips. Very excited to go next year. It’s been on our bucket list for many years now.

  9. Wilma|

    How many days is suffice to see the Stampede. Maybe the last 3?

  10. Ed Richter|

    I am going, but how can I find out on what day they have Bull riding ?

  11. Michal|

    Hi I’m thinking about going in 2018 but cannot travel until the 14/7 at night so will get there on 15/7 in the morning… would one day (the last day) be worth the rush to get there upon landing from the UK?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      One day is better than no day!

  12. Amanda|

    Hi we are going on 9th and 10th july 2017. Day show and evening. Bannf first then to calgary. Would it be better to buy stuff in lammies in bannf rather than calgary.

  13. J. Millar|

    Sadly, you missed one of the best things about Stampede – the evening show at the grandstand, which includes the chuckwagon races and grandstand show. This show is like Cirque du Soleil crossed with a music concert crossed with a Broadway revue, complete with flying and fireworks. If you’re planning a trip to the Stampede, make sure you don’t miss these!

  14. Kerrie|

    A couple of sort seasons past we noticed this particular development booming.

  15. Michele Knapik Smith|

    Interested in Calgary Stampede and maybe trip to Vancouver via rail

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *