What Do You Do at the Calgary Stampede?

by CiCi
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The Calgary Stampede is not just an event; it’s a celebration of western heritage, culture, and community spirit. Held annually in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the Stampede is often referred to as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” This iconic event attracts visitors from around the globe who come to experience rodeo competitions, chuckwagon races, live music, carnival rides, and a wide array of western-themed activities. In this article, we delve into what makes the Calgary Stampede such a unique and beloved event, exploring the activities and experiences that attendees can enjoy.

The History and Heritage of the Calgary Stampede

Origins and Evolution

The Calgary Stampede traces its origins back to the late 19th century when the event was first held in 1886 as a small agricultural fair. It grew rapidly in scale and popularity, becoming an annual event known as the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede by 1912. The “Stampede” name was officially adopted in 1923, reflecting its focus on celebrating western traditions and the pioneer spirit.


Throughout its history, the Stampede has evolved from a local agricultural show into a world-renowned festival that showcases the best of western culture and sports. Today, it is a major tourist attraction and a significant economic driver for Calgary and the surrounding region.


Cultural Significance

The Calgary Stampede holds deep cultural significance for the city of Calgary and the province of Alberta. It embodies the western values of hospitality, resilience, and community spirit. For many attendees, the Stampede is an opportunity to connect with western heritage, whether they have a personal history in agriculture and ranching or simply admire the traditions of the Canadian west.

Activities and Attractions at the Calgary Stampede

Rodeo Competitions

One of the main highlights of the Calgary Stampede is its world-class rodeo competitions. The Stampede Rodeo features events such as bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and barrel racing. These events showcase the skills of professional cowboys and cowgirls who compete for substantial prize money and prestigious titles.

The rodeo competitions at the Stampede are not only thrilling to watch but also serve to preserve and promote the traditions of ranching and horsemanship that are integral to western culture.

Chuckwagon Races

Chuckwagon racing is another adrenaline-pumping spectacle at the Calgary Stampede. Dating back to the early days of the event, chuckwagon races simulate the breakneck pace of early chuckwagon drivers who transported goods and supplies across the prairies. Today, the races feature teams of horses pulling chuckwagons around a track in a thrilling display of speed and skill.

The Chuckwagon Derby, as it’s often called, culminates in the prestigious Rangeland Derby, where top drivers compete for the coveted Calgary Stampede Championship. The races are not only a test of horsemanship and teamwork but also a beloved tradition that draws large crowds of enthusiastic spectators.

Grandstand Shows and Entertainment

Beyond the adrenaline of rodeo and chuckwagon racing, the Calgary Stampede offers a diverse lineup of entertainment and grandstand shows. Each evening, the Grandstand Show combines live music, dance performances, and theatrical productions to celebrate western heritage and entertain audiences of all ages.

The Grandstand Show often features elaborate choreography, live music from local and international artists, and stunning visual effects. It is a culmination of the Stampede’s celebration of western culture and entertainment, offering attendees a chance to experience the spirit of the Canadian west in a spectacular showcase.

Agricultural Exhibits and Competitions

Central to the Calgary Stampede’s roots in agriculture is its extensive array of agricultural exhibits and competitions. The Stampede’s Agricultural Show features livestock displays, agricultural machinery showcases, and competitions for everything from cattle and horses to sheep and poultry.

Attendees can explore the Agricultural Zone to learn about modern farming practices, see prize-winning animals up close, and engage with agricultural experts and exhibitors. Agricultural competitions highlight the best breeds and specimens in various categories, showcasing the skill and dedication of Alberta’s farming community.

Midway and Amusement Rides

For those seeking thrills of a different kind, the Stampede Midway offers a wide selection of carnival rides, games, and attractions. From classic Ferris wheels and roller coasters to midway games where attendees can test their skills and win prizes, the Midway is a bustling hub of activity throughout the Stampede.

Families and thrill-seekers alike flock to the Midway to enjoy a mix of traditional and modern carnival attractions. The atmosphere is lively and festive, with the sights and sounds of the Midway adding to the overall excitement of the Stampede experience.

Indigenous Showcase

Recognizing the rich cultural heritage of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, the Calgary Stampede hosts an Indigenous Showcase that highlights Indigenous art, music, dance, and traditions. The showcase includes performances by Indigenous artists and performers, demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills, and exhibits that educate attendees about Indigenous culture and history.

The Indigenous Showcase is a meaningful addition to the Stampede program, fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation while honoring the contributions of Indigenous communities to Canada’s western heritage.

Tips for Enjoying the Calgary Stampede

Planning Your Visit

To make the most of your Calgary Stampede experience, consider planning your visit in advance. Tickets for popular events such as rodeo performances and grandstand shows often sell out quickly, so purchasing tickets early is recommended.

Dressing for the Occasion

Given the outdoor nature of the Stampede and the range of activities available, dressing appropriately is key. Comfortable footwear is essential for navigating the grounds, and dressing in layers can help you stay comfortable as temperatures can vary throughout the day.

Exploring Beyond the Grounds

While the Stampede itself offers a wealth of activities, exploring the city of Calgary and its surrounding areas can enhance your visit. From exploring local museums and galleries to sampling regional cuisine and visiting nearby natural attractions, there is much to see and do in Calgary beyond the Stampede grounds.

Embracing the Spirit of the West

Above all, embrace the spirit of the Calgary Stampede and immerse yourself in the traditions, hospitality, and camaraderie that define this iconic event. Whether you’re attending with family, friends, or solo, the Stampede offers something for everyone to enjoy and celebrate.

See also: When Is Carnival In Quebec


The Calgary Stampede is a celebration of western heritage, culture, and community spirit that captivates attendees from around the world. From thrilling rodeo competitions and chuckwagon races to grandstand shows and carnival rides, the Stampede offers a diverse range of activities and experiences for visitors of all ages.

As one of Canada’s most beloved festivals, the Stampede continues to uphold its traditions while embracing new forms of entertainment and cultural expression. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Stampede enthusiast, attending the Calgary Stampede promises an unforgettable experience filled with excitement, entertainment, and the enduring spirit of the Canadian west.


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