How the Calgary Stampede experience changes with age

Jul 10 2019, 11:53 am

The Calgary Stampede is, and always has been, a family affair!

Kids look forward to the day they are tall enough to ride the “real” midway rides by themselves, teens look forward to the day when they can legally go two-stepping at Nashville North, and parent’s get excited for their kids to be old enough so that they can re-experience the western magic vicariously through them.

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The Stampede is more than a mere 10-day exhibition. It’s a cultural event that represents Calgary’s deep roots formed throughout the generations.

As each year goes by, new additions pop up and changes are made, all to enhance the experience and continue the tradition of celebrating the wild west in Calgary.

If you were born and raised here, there is a good chance that your grandparents and even great relatives attended the Stampede and left their mark – and now it’s your turn.


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No matter how old you are, the stampede is an experience that is loved and adored at all ages. Here’s how one would typically experience the Stampede throughout the various decades of your life.

Get ready to make some memories!

Stampede for kids


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As a kid all you want to do is ride all the rides, eat all the candy, and explore all the interactive areas that the Stampede has to offer. Plus, if you play your cards right, your parents might just let you stay up past your bedtime and watch the fireworks (major highlight of my childhood Stampede days).

Head to the Great FUNtier if your kid is an adrenaline junkie to tire them out on all the rides. Make sure you check their height to ensure they can ride alone.

If the kiddos (and parents) are SpongeBob fans, this is their lucky day! On July 13 to 14 SpongeBob will be making a live appearance in the YTV Beach Party Zone in The Range Marketplace for his 20th birthday celebration.


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You could also check out the CN Rail interactive exhibits in celebration of their 100 Anniversary, or enjoy the MANY performances that kids and adults will both enjoy!

From the SuperDogs at the Dog Bowl to Light Balance to Dundu – The Giants of Light to the freestyle motocross at the Monster Energy Compound, there are a ton of fun shows that will appeal to everyone’s tastes and interests.

Lastly, be sure to explore the BMO Kids Zone, featuring PAW Patrol meet n’greets, and the Stampede Agriculture Showcase. The smell of the barns is one you won’t forget for the rest of your life!

Stampede for teens  


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At this point, you’re too cool to be seen with your parents and younger siblings, and depending on how old, you might even get permission to head down to the grounds on your own. Don’t think we don’t know that those 16/17-year-olds are sneaking in flasks and showing their fake id’s – we’ve all been there.

For legal activities, you won’t want to miss out on the food, the games, and the big kid rides in the “thrill zone” that you’re now tall enough to check them all out.

Of course, the regular shows (that we mentioned above) might pique your interest, along with the Chuckwagons and Grandstand show– also a popular spot if you’re heading out on a first date with your first BF/GF (young love at it’s finest).

Stampede in your 20s


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Stampeding in your 20s is all about the party. It’s about finding the perfect outfit to wear on every day, searching for the best venue with the hottest concerts every night, and discovering a way to skip the line while still maintaining your pre-drink buzz.

On the grounds you can catch live music on the Coca-Cola StageNashville NorthThe Big Four RoadhouseBulls After Dark, and the Virgin Mobile Stampede Concert Series at the Saddledome.

Throughout the city, on all 10 days, there are concerts scheduled for the Cowboys Music FestivalThe Badlands Music FestivalRanchmansWildhorse Saloon, the legendary Roundup Musicfest, and at Oxford Stomp — those last two both being located at Shaw Millennium Park.

Have fun, and be safe kiddos!

Stampede in your 30s


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At this point, most of us are attending work parties and enjoying a (slightly) smaller dose of Stampede each year. We know the drill, where to go, and how to pace ourselves so that we can last throughout the day – unlike the messy days and nights in our 20s. Now we keep an eye out for how to avoid the lineups, get free admission, and drink for as little as possible.

For those who are done with the party scene and settled down, it’s all about getting FOMO in the dream home, exploring the grounds, and discovering all of the mid-way additions that have been added since we were kids. It’s also a great way to have a romantic afternoon date or just relax with your friends.

Plus, we’ve all been training for the last six months to be allowed to binge on all our favourite (and newly discovered) deep-fried midway foods. The routine post-Stampede cleanse will begin next week.

Don’t forget about the copious amounts of shopping that there is to do at the BMO Market Place and throughout the grounds! It’s never too late to pick up a new hat, pair of boots, or bolo tie — now that you can actually afford it!

Stampede in your 40s


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These are the years where you get to do it all over again! Take your kids and enjoy all your favourite stampede festivities (and then some) just as you did when you were their age. Take note of their highlights and show them all of the old-time classics. These are the special family moments that the Stampede was truly made for.

However, don’t forget to have a little “adult fun” as well. Leave the kids at home and enjoy a night out with your friends and partner – you certainly deserve it!

Stampede in your 50s and beyond!


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By this point you’ve come, you’ve seen, and you’ve experienced the Stampede in all of its glory. Now it’s time to sit back and simply enjoy your favourite parts, while discovering a few of the “hip” events that the youngins are going to.

Enjoy browsing the Elbow River Camp, shopping the BMO, hitting up the lottery, and grab a drink in one of the many beer gardens. There is nothing wrong with taking it easy and just letting it all happen around you as you enjoy the best of the Stampede with memories from the old days — while still managing to make new ones with your closest friends and family.

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Kristy ArchibaldKristy Archibald

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