16 free things to do during Calgary Stampede

Jul 6 2016, 12:54 am

It’s almost time for the Calgary Stampede, likely to leave your wallet a little bit lighter, what with entry fees, rodeo tickets and concert costs.

So how can you celebrate the Greatest Show On Earth for free? We’ve taken a hunt around and found some obvious – and not so obvious – ways to keep things cheap.

Stampede Parade

  • What: Each year the parade through downtown Calgary showcases marching bands, floats, horses and the people of Calgary in more than 150 western-themed entries.
  • Where: The parade will cover 4.5 km of downtown Calgary streets
    • Begins at 6th Avenue and 3rd Street SE and travels west.
    • Turns south at 6th Avenue and 10th Street SW
    • Turns east at 9th Avenue and 10th Street SW
    • Finishes at 9th Avenue and 4th Street SE
  • When: Friday, July 8, Parade Prelude at 8 am, Main Parade at 8:55 am

Fluor Rope Square

  • What: Each year Calgary’s Olympic Plaza is transformed into Rope Square, so you can enjoy free Stampede events, including bacon pancake breakfasts and live shows.
  • Where: Olympic Plaza, corner of 7th Avenue and Macleod Trail SE

Here are some of the free events happening in Rope Square this year:

Chuckwagon breakfast

  • What: Get your pancakes and bacon hot off the griddles from the back of authentic GMC Rangeland Derby Chuckwagons and Fluor Smokies – more than 30,000 free breakfasts are served every year at Rope Square for Stampede!
  • When: Every day from Friday, July 8 to Saturday, July 16, except Sunday, July 10, from 8:15 to 10:30 am

Great Western Flapjack Flip

  • What: An exhibition of skill and enthusiasm involving a flapjack “flipper” and “catcher”. Contestants compete in teams, with prizes awarded for the team’s ability to elevate the foodstuff to new heights, and return the product to a safe landing.
  • When: Every day from Monday, July 11 to Friday, July 15, at 10:05 am

Lammle’s World Champion Hat Stomp Competition

  • What: Can you destroy a cowboy hat in 30 seconds? Six contestants from the audience are chosen daily in advance of the event. Contestants are judged on their ability to stomp a cowboy hat in three categories: mash factor, originality and style.
  • When: From Saturday, July 9 to Saturday, July 16, except Sunday, July 10, at 10:05 am

Square Dancers

  • What: Kick up your heels and join the Fluor Square Dancers on Stephen Avenue Walk. Experience isn’t necessary – with the help of volunteers, anyone can learn to square dance, Stampede style!
  • When: From Saturday, July 9 to Saturday, July 16, except Sunday, July 10, from 10 am to noon

First Nations Parade

  • What: Members of the five First Nations of Treaty 7 from Southern Alberta, dressed in traditional regalia, proudly parade on horseback and share their heritage through dance, music and commentaries.  Join them in a Friendship Dance at Rope Square.
  • Where: Starts at 9th Avenue at 1st Street SW, then continues to Fluor Rope Square (7th Ave & Macleod Trail SE), then ends at 4th Avenue SW (Westin Hotel.)
  • When: From Saturday, July 9 to Saturday, July 16, except Sunday, July 10, from 10 am to 1 pm

Old Time Rig Rides

  • What: Enjoy an hour-long tour of downtown Calgary in a horse-drawn old time rig and even a free pancake breakfast along the way. Rig passengers are welcome to stay on board all the way to Stampede Park and be dropped off at Olympic Gate.
  • Where: Rides start at 9th Avenue at 1st Street SW (Encana Place.)
  • When: From Saturday, July 9 to Saturday, July 16, except Sunday, July 10, from 10 to 11 am
  • Tickets: The rides are free, but there are only a limited number of spaces in the rigs, so tickets are given out on the NE corner of Rope Square at 8:30 am every day.

Each weekday at Rope Square, there will also be a High Noon Hootenanny, and a whole host of acts performing, including the Chinook Country Line Dancers.

For full listings check the Fluor Rope Square schedule.

158 Free Pancake Breakfasts

If there’s one thing we can count on at the Stampede, it’s free pancakes. As per tradition, a slew of free pancake breakfasts have been popping up across the city, and we want you to be prepared. A few of them have already come and gone, but there are plenty more where that came from. Click here to see our list.

CORE Shopping Centre 

  • What: The CORE shopping mall in Downtown Calgary is also keeping up the Stampede spirit, with an array of free country-themed entertainment.
  • Where: CORE Shopping Centre  – 324 8th Avenue SW

Here are some of the events you can enjoy for free at the CORE:


  • What: Country singer Sykamore is renowned for her raw performance style and in her short career, has already collaborated with Juno winners and had her music featured on the hit TV show Heartland. Now dividing her time between Nashville and Calgary, Sykamore is excited to perform for her home crowd.
  • Where: Level 2 of the CORE
  • When: Saturday, July 9, from noon to 1pm

Zumba Party

  • What: Due to the popularity of past CORE zumba parties, Maria Hunter is coming back to teach a Western-themed zumba party.
  • When: Sunday, July 10, from 11 am to noon
  • Register: Inside the Lolë store on the day

Line Dancing Party

  • What: The CORE is bringing in expert line dancing teachers to lead shoppers. Bring your boots and your co-workers and get ready to have some fun.
  • Where: Level 2 of the CORE
  • When: Monday, July 11, starts at noon

Calgary Fiddlers

  • What: The Calgary Fiddlers are a CORE favourite who know how to get your toes tapping.
  • Where: Level 2 of the CORE
  • When: Wednesday, July 13, over the lunch hour

#CORESTAMPEDE selfie contest

  • What: Stop by the CORE’s Stampede Displays and snap a selfie for your chance to win daily prizes. Use tags @COREShopping and #COREStampede.
  • Where: Level 2 of the CORE
  • When: Friday, July 8, until Sunday, July 17 at 6 pm

Canadian Blood Services

  • What: Canadian Blood Services will be in the CORE teaching shoppers how their donation helps rodeo cowboys and cowgirls.
  • When: Friday, July 15, all day


  • What: Dave Cowley and his exceptionally talented horse Tucker will be taking pictures with shoppers and filming the pilot of his upcoming TV series.
  • Where: Level 2 of the CORE
  • When: Saturday, July 16

Zumba Detox

  • What: Maria Hunter will be helping shoppers detox after a week of partying with a free Zumba class.
  • When: Sunday, July 17, from 11 am to noon
  • Register: Inside the Lolë store on the day

Get into the Stampede for free

  • What: Suncor Family Day on Sunday, July 10, gives you free early admission to the grounds and the morning show, featuring Ukrainian dancers, singer Dylan Gillet and Mini Chuck Wagons. There’s also a free breakfast for the first 20,000 guests.
  • Where: Tickets are given out at Stampede Park entrances, the morning show is in the Grandstand and breakfast is served in the Grandstand Courtyard.
  • When: Free entry between 6 and 9 am, breakfast from 7 to 9:30 am
DH Calgary StaffDH Calgary Staff

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