17 things I learned after going to the Calgary Stampede for the first time

Jul 28 2017, 4:31 am

After hearing about the so called ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’ for years since we launched Daily Hive in Calgary, I figured it was about time I made my way over to YYC to experience my first Stampede.

Here’s a bunch of stuff I learned after spending three full days at the Calgary Stampede for the first time.

Stay downtown

The Privilege room (Le Germain Calgary)

With the Stampede grounds a short walk away, staying downtown is a necessity.

When you’re picking a place to stay, look no further than Le Germain. Family owned and operated, this boutique hotel across from the iconic Calgary Tower will leave you speechless. You might not remember going to sleep but you’ll love waking up.

Pro tip: Their “Deluxe Continental Breakfast” is basically a full breakfast – and it’s included in every stay.

le germain calgary hotel

The hotel lobby (Le Germain Calgary)

Buy a cowboy hat

Straw, stetson, giant foam. Whatever your pick is, this is an essential part of blending in. Apparently every Calgarian has at least a few cowboy hats in their “Stampede wardrobe.”

Get a pair of cowboy boots

It doesn’t matter that it’s 30+ outside and your feet will be hot and sweaty. Aside from looking the part, cowboy boots help protect your feet from all that spilt beer.

Wear lots of plaid and denim

If you aren’t wearing a plaid shirt or a Canadian tuxedo, why are you even here?

People drink a LOT of beer

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The kegs don’t stop flowing. And yes, beer does pair well with pancakes, so I’m told.

You’re going to spend a lot of money

From drinks to food to rides, everything is going to cost you… a lot. So save up before you go.

Go see the chuckwagon races… it’s intense

Yes, this is an actual thing. And it’s crazier than normal horse racing. You can get same-day standing tickets at the box office, or grab some seats in advance to enjoy the chucks and the grandstand show (singing, dancing, and fireworks).

Pro tip: If you buy tickets in advance, they include entry to the grounds on that day.

The CTrain runs 24 hours

Calgary CTrain / Shutterstock

Being from Vancouver, having a rapid transit line run 24 hours felt pretty special. It’s also free to ride around downtown anytime, not just during Stampede. Amazing.


If Nenshi says it, it must be true.

The fireworks are pretty epic

At 10:45 each night of Stampede, fireworks light up the night sky – and they’re pretty special.

Stay hydrated

Bring your own bottle of water to avoid paying $4 inside the grounds.

Almost everything is fried

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Every Stampede day is a cheat day (sorry, not sorry). Fried pickles are the closest thing to a vegetable you’ll find here.

Everything smells like a barn

Horses. Hay. Sh… ouldn’t worry though, you’ll get used to it.

People are very friendly

Spontaneous dance parties in food lineups are a real and recurring thing. Calgarians are already a friendly bunch, but it seems like everyone gets extra warm and fuzzy around Stampede time. Nothing to do with the beer of course.

People line up for hours to get inside a party tent

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I don’t understand. The lineup for Nashville North and the Cowboys Tent can be over two hours. And people actually wait in it. To listen to country music.

Plan your mornings around pancake breakfasts

There are tons of free pancake breakfasts around the city every morning over the span of the 10-day festival. In fact, this year there were over ONE HUNDRED FREE PANCAKE BREAKFASTS. It’s incredible how businesses and communities come together to make this happen year after year.

Protect your re-entry stamp

If you leave the grounds, DON’T WASH YOUR HANDS OR TAKE A SHOWER. They will make you pay to get back in, no exceptions.


The Calgary Stampede returns again next year, and every year after that. Learn more about it here.

Farhan MohamedFarhan Mohamed

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