Every July, the city of Calgary transforms into the biggest, brightest and brashest Wild Western celebration on the planet, dubbed “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” Daring rodeo meets outrageous street food meets legendary concerts in one of the best festivals anywhere in the world at the Calgary Stampede.
Stampede this year was from 6th – 15th July, meaning the experience is over for another year. But, thanks to a 50th anniversary celebration and incredible events each day, 2018 was one of the best years yet. Find out what made the festival so special this year, and get inspired for next year’s Yahoo…
1. 50th Anniversary of the Grandstand Show
The iconic Grandstand Show is one of the most famous events of the Stampede and takes place each evening during the festival. This year, the 50th anniversary aimed to recognise all things Calgarian and pay tribute to the spirit and energy of the city and the people who make Stampede possible. This year’s show included performances from The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede, world-class acrobats, extreme athletes and music performances. Each spell-binding show culminated in a spectacular nightly fireworks finale.
2. The biggest names in the Biz
It wouldn’t be the Calgary Stampede without a heavy sprinkle of Showbiz. The festival boasts no fewer than four world-class concert venues, each with a stellar line up of music stars.
The Coca-Cola Stage is the home of rock, pop and alternative. This year’s headliners included Alexisonfire, Elle King, Sheryl Crow and Walk off the Earth.
The Nashville North stage is a must-see to indulge in Western culture’s synonymous sound – Country. Country music stars this year included The Washboard Union, River Town Saints and Leaving Thomas.
The Big Four Roadhouse
This is Stampede’s newest venue which combines music, food, drinks and games for a party atmosphere. Headliners at the Big Four Roundhouse included Dead Flowers, Platinum Blonde and The Boom Booms.
Virgin Mobile Stampede Concert Series
The Scotiabank Saddledome stage has hosted legends like Garth Brooks, Katy Perry, and Keith Urban as part of the Virgin Mobile Stampede Concert Series. This year, two Country music heavyweights performed – Luke Bryan and Brad Paisley.
3. Food you’ve never tried before
The street food stalls are one of the absolute highlights of the Calgary Stampede. Every year, food crazier, wackier and more delicious than last year pops up. This year, the treats on offer included:
- Grilled cheese cricket sandwiches – that’s right, gooey cheese toasties with crispy crickets inside
- “Prairie oyster” balls – a prairie oyster being a bull’s testicle. Yes, really. Enjoy (if you dare) served on top of mini doughnuts and smothered in blueberry sauce and whipped cream.
- The Big Pickle Tornado – a giant pickle, stuffed with a hot dog, wrapped in cheese and bacon and deep-fried. Obviously.
- Deep-fried, bacon-wrapped Reese’s peanut butter ups – does what it says on the tin. But why? We’re not sure.
- Giant squid on a stick – a whole squid, marinated in spices and deep-fried until crispy, served on a stick (because all food is better on a stick.)
4. The Cowboy Up Challenge
The Extreme Cowboy Race took place on three days this Stampede and represented the ultimate equestrian event. The skills of both horse and rider were show-off and tested to the limit by a series of obstacles. The rider that successfully manoeuvred through the course and won the sudden death final claimed a cool $10,000 in prize money.
5. The Stampede Park Zipline
This is the newest attraction at the Calgary Stampede and is definitely one for daredevils, adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers. The two new ziplines span almost four football fields in length and zoom riders along at 50km an hour above the Midway fairground. Suspended 140 feet above the Stampede Park, it’s the longest and tallest multi-point event zipline in North America.
6. All the rest…
There are so many more incredible events that take place each year at the Calgary Stampede. The main Rodeo event is packed full of edge-of-your-sight competitions, included bareback riding, steer roping, barrel racing and chuck wagon racing.
Beyond the rodeo, the Dog Bowl is the cutest showcase of clever mutts. The tricks continue in the Monster Energy Compound, where Freestyle Motocross riders complete impossible jumps and flips. There is so much for families to do, from dedicated kids’ zones to meet-and-greets with cartoon stars. Don’t forget the fairground rides at the Midway and the agricultural farm animals and petting zoos.
See it for yourself
Tempted to try Stampede for yourself? We’re no surprised. There really is no other festival quite like it. Going is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill that will open your ears, eyes and taste buds to spectacular new experiences every day. The Stampede is popular, which means tickets and hotels book up well in advance. Check out our Calgary Stampede holiday packages and get in touch with our Canada Experts to secure your spot for next year.
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Photo Credit: Bill Marsh