Home to “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, Calgary is known for its annual boot-stompin’, Two-Steppin’, cowboy-loving, crazy 10 days of celebration, the Calgary Stampede. This will be Jenna’s first year experiencing Stampede as a YYC resident (but third Stampede in total), and Maria’s second Stampede as a YYC resident. Between us, we have created a list of the top five things to do at Stampede 2015. In no particular order:
1) Visit Ranchman’s to see where the real cowboys go to let loose after a rodeo.
Although it’s a bit far out from Stampede grounds, Ranchman’s is a must, at least once during Stampede. The space is pretty big, with an outdoor patio/tent, and indoors there are a few bars so there usually isn’t a long wait. Head to the dance floor where you’ll see cowboys busting out some amazing dance moves (which will make you hope they choose you as a dance partner, even if you can’t hold your own). More often than not, Cadillac Ranch will come on, and everyone will attempt to line dance together, which is a ton of fun. .
Tip #1: Plan to wear shorts or jeans if you’re interested in riding the bull (a ton of fun, costs around $20 and an adorable man oversees this inside and will help the ladies get on and off of the bull).
Tip #2: There’s a McDonald’s right beside the bar, for when you’re in the mood for a post-partying snack
2) Fast Pass it / Buck the Line at Cowboys/Nashville North
Cowboys and Nashville North are SO much fun for partying during Stampede. Located right on Stampede Grounds, these tents have huge capacity – and a huge interest from Stampede go-ers. Both places fill up VERY quickly, especially on weekends, and you likely have to be in line by 3 p.m. or earlier to avoid a super long lineup. Last year we waited in line for four hours at Nashville North, which we’ll never do again. The good news? Cowboys always offers a ‘fast-pass’ option for $111 that grants you entry, no lines. This year, we’re happy to see Nashville North following suit with their own version of a fast-pass, Buck the Line (also around $100). You can buy these in advance, but we found that the lineups vary based on the day, so we like to buy day of.
Tip: There are a couple other places like WildHorse and the newly opened Knoxville’s Tavern that seem like a lot of fun, and are off Stampede grounds, if you don’t want to drop $100+ for a fast pass. We’ll be sure to check them out this year!
3) See a country concert at the Saddledome!
Every year there are a couple of pretty big country artists who headline Stampede – this year Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, and Kip Moore are coming to town (plus Sam Hunt, Stevie Wonder, Nelly, Dallas Smith, and more). Some tickets are still available for these shows, and tend to be a bit overpriced, but it’s always a fun experience. Plus, your concert ticket to the Saddledome grants you free entrance to Stampede grounds, so it’s a win/win.
4) Hang out on Stampede grounds to drink + eat.
For a low-key afternoon or evening, visit one of the many beer gardens to cool off and people watch (admission to the grounds is $18). Save some room for some of the Stampede food. We can’t wait to try the mini donut pop, the donut grilled cheese, and the deep fried cheese pie to name a few. Cue the food coma as you watch the nightly fireworks.
5) Rodeo + Chuckwagons
To get the true Stampede experience, make some time to see a rodeo (offered daily at 1 p.m.), followed by Chuckwagon races. Prices vary based on what kind of seats you want. If you’re not looking to stay for the whole thing, (app.3hrs) we’d recommend getting the standing room tickets as you’ll have easy access to the bar, washrooms and you won’t feel as guilty sneaking out early.
Anything we left out? We trust you’ll have an amazing time at Stampede 2015, and we’re looking forward to sharing more tips next year.
Follow our experience on Instagram #BootsBeersBuckles.