Stampede survival guide: 10 activities away from the grounds

Author: Claire Bourgeois

A visit to the grounds and midway are a must for any Calgarian. However, sometimes the deep-fried Oreos get the best of us and we need a break from the madness. Here are some other awesome things to check out in Calgary during Stampede time.

Live music at the King Eddy

Escape the crowds for a few hours and enjoy some great tunes, food and craft beer at a Calgary institution just a few blocks from the grounds in the East Village. Every Stampede season, the King Edward Hotel celebrates the culture of Calgary by featuring a variety of Canadian country artists.

Stuff your face for free at one of many Stampede Breakfasts

As a born-and-raised Calgarian, I can honestly say that some of my favorite memories growing up have been loading up a plate with pancakes and maple syrup courtesy of the many free pancake breakfasts in the city. Your daily recommended serving of breakfast food kicks off on the Thursday before Stampede with the First Flip on Stephen Avenue .

To plan your pancake breakfast pursuits, check out

"Anti - Stampede" Dance + BBQ

As fun as Stampede can be, some people just aren’t into it. In a city of 1.4 million, we can’t all be expected to like the same things, right? This inclusive anti-stampede party, hosted at Broken City, features music ranging from 80’s dance music to hip hop and RnB. The only music sure to be excluded from the DJ set? You guessed it – country.

The Calgary Stampede Parade

A stampede staple, the parade is a must for anyone new to the city and includes 30 marching bands, 40 floats, 750 horses and 4,000 people. Get there early to secure a spot (some people even set up their chairs the night before) and be sure to check the route map for traffic closures. 

Avoid rodeo crowds at Spruce Meadows

Head south of downtown for the North American horse jumping competition at the world-class Spruce Meadows riding facilities. Perfect for all ages, the tournament will feature the best show jumpers from this side of the Atlantic.

Visit a museum

From finding out exactly how many midway foods will result in a stomachache to studying the varied people found stumbling out of Nashville North at any given hour, the Stampede midway is filled with lessons just waiting to be learned. If your intellectual side craves something a little more refined, however, spend an evening at The Glenbow Museum or Telus Spark.  

Get your thrills without the lines at Calaway Park

Enjoy all the fun of the midway without standing in line for hours at Calaway park, located just west of the city near Canada Olympic Park. With rides and attractions for all ages, this is a perfect activity for the whole family.

Beat the heat on the Bow/Elbow rivers

With record temperatures hitting Calgary in summer, cool off on one of the two rivers that flow through the city. If you choose to rarft, be sure to consult the City of Calgary's rules and guidelines regarding float rules.

Take advantage of one of Calgary's many happy hours

Stampede can get expensive. Save some cash by hitting up happy hour for some mind-blowing food and drink deals. Some great places to go enjoy a cold drink on a patio inlcude National, Anejo, and Cannibale.

Explore the city by bike on Calgary's extensive bike path system

Calgary is home to award-winning bike paths and an extensive city-wide system of pathways and bike lanes. Work off those mini donuts with an afternoon ride along the river - stopping at the Simmons Building for lunch at Sidewalk Citizen or coffee at Phil and Sebastian.

Sometimes the deep-fried Oreos get the best of us and we need a break from the Stampede Midway madness. Here are some other awesome things to check out in Calgary during Stampede time.

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