First-timer's guide to attending the legendary Calgary Stampede

Jun 5 2023, 5:30 pm

You’ve definitely heard of the Calgary Stampede, but for some reason, maybe you’ve never been?

Maybe you’re travelling from out of town, new to the city, at the right age, or just finally ready to take the plunge — no matter the reason, you’re in for a fantastic time.

This is the Calgary Stampede and it’s 10 days long! There are tons of things to do and see, but still a few things you need to experience no matter what. And if you have been before, consider this a refresher course.

If you do it right, you’ll be a fan forever.

Here are 10 things to know when attending your very first Calgary Stampede this year from July 7 to 16.

Make time in the morning for the pancake breakfasts


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Calgary Stampede (@calgarystampede)

Pancake breakfasts are a Calgary Stampede staple.

These are a great way to network, raise money, re-energize for the day, or have an excellent breakfast with the family.

There are up to 100 of these across the city every year, and each one seems to offer something unique, from bacon pancakes to bouncy castles.

Check out an extravagant drag brunch show

Drag brunches are an absolute blast, with live performances, boozy drinks, and plates of breakfast; if you’ve never been to one, then now is the chance.

They seem like a perfect fit for the Stampede and they will be parties you won’t want to miss out on.

Local performers will light up the stage, including well-known competitors from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Eat the weirdest Midway foods


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dished Calgary (@dishedcalgary)

Corndogs, burgers, pizza, and so much more will always be available at the Calgary Stampede midway, but the weirdest foods are usually here for a limited time.

So what does “weird” mean?

Mealworm hot dogs, deep-fried bubble gum, gator bites, and pork intestine seem pretty odd to us. Be brave and seek out some of these foods that (some) people can’t wait to try year after year.

Take advantage of the free barbecues

These backyard-style barbecues are much like the pancake breakfasts in the morning, just at a more agreeable time.

Often free, people visit these spots to try some fantastic barbecue and enjoy the spirit of the Stampede in a communal space. Southern-style barbecue is a big deal during the 10-day festival, and you wouldn’t want it to end without saying you tried some.

Explore all of the tents

The tents are where the party is always the best.

They are 18+ and feature live music, bars, beer tubs, and much more. Each tent is entirely different but always embraces the cowboy spirit of things.

Many of these tents have a capacity of more than 2,000 people and still have lines down the block to get in. Most of the Stampede tents are located directly in the heart of the city and can’t be missed.

Make sure to wear your boots and finest getup!

Definitely go to a concert

So many concerts play at the Calgary Stampede, so it would be difficult not to go to one.

There are shows at nearly every tent as well as bigger venues like The Big 4 and the Saddledome. Keep an eye out for more minor acts at local pubs and bars. Most concerts are ticketed, but the Coca-Cola Stage on the grounds is free with admission, hosting different popular shows every night. Tegan and Sara are making an appearance this year!

Hit up a patio near the grounds

If you aren’t going onto the grounds on a particular day and the tents aren’t calling your name, that’s okay. One of the best parts about the Calgary Stampede is how electric it makes the entire city.

YYC has a buzz all event long, with patios and bars filled with excited people dressed up, beer in hand, and smiling. We think patios near the action are the best places to enjoy that energy.

Hopefully, it’s nice out! It almost always is.

Know where the best places to grab a drink are


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Proof Cocktail Bar (@proofyyc)

This one is pretty obvious, but it needs to be mentioned.

The bar scene in Calgary is thriving, and that’s never more apparent than during the Stampede. Pubs, breweries, cocktail bars, tents, taverns, patios, saloons, and more are available within walking distance of the Stampede grounds, so knowing what vibe you want is essential.

Luckily, we’ve created a map to know exactly where to go. Ultimate Stampede crawl, anyone?

Go to a honkey tonk for some line dancing

The best country bars for dancing in Canada are likely right here in YYC and during the Stampede, arguably the best in the world.

There are plenty of places to dance the night away in YYC, but maybe you’ve got your boots on and are looking to two-step, do-si-do, and line dance.

It doesn’t matter if you are a pro or just learning, dancing to country music with that many people in the middle of summer is a Stampede must.

Jump onto a ride at the midway


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Calgary Stampede (@calgarystampede)

Some rides are scary — maybe that’s your thing and maybe it’s not.

If you love them, go on as many times as possible between eating pizza-on-a-stick and winning carnival prizes. If you hate them, pick the tamest one and say you did it.

Some of them are even quite romantic, like the world’s largest Ferris wheel, new to the midway in 2022.

Want to stay in the loop with more Daily Hive content and News in your area? Check out all of our Newsletters here.
Buzz Connected Media Inc. #400 – 1008 Homer Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2X1 [email protected] View Rules
Hogan ShortHogan Short

+ Dished
+ Listed
+ Restaurants & Bars
+ Stampede
+ Food Events
+ Best of