This is the first part in Trishna Patel’s five-part series on the Calgary Stampede. Check out the series homepage here, the second part here, the third part here, the fourth part here, and the final part here.
The Calgary Stampede is known as the “Greatest Show on Earth, and it got this name for a reason. There’s just so much to do and see—to the extent that for some, it can potentially be overwhelming. But I think two days inside the park is more than enough time to experience all the major attractions. Here’s what to do on day 1 (for what to do on day 2, tune in tomorrow):
1. Infield Suites for the chuckwagon races
One aspect that the Stampede is well-known for is its social culture, including the fact that it hosts various high-profile corporate parties. If experiencing this aspect of the festival is something that interests you (like it interested me), reserving a night at the Infield Suites is a must.
Perched just meters above the chutes and barrels, the Infield Suites’ outdoor deck offers an incomparable, aerial-like view of the chuckwagon races, which feature 36 wagons and over 200 horses for a total of nine heart-pounding drives across the finish line. (No idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, you’ll learn as you go.)
Inside each spacious suite is your own personal host, serving spirits and food. I feasted on cheese, charcuterie and tri-tip as I mingled with retired cowboys and placed bets on competing riders. Not a bad way to start off the week, right?
2. The Grandstand Show
After the races, make your way to the other side of the tracks for the Stampede’s Grandstand Show. Here, I watched an impressive and pleasantly patriotic 90-minute performance—complete with song and dance, acrobats and a firework finale.
Highlights included an immigrant family being sworn in as Canadian citizens at the end of the show. Being that it also happened to be 4th of July weekend, this sentimental American (me) may or may not have shed a tear or two.
Tip: The Grandstand show takes place every night of the Stampede. Just make sure you see it once.
3. Nashville North
Heads up: The party scene at the Stampede is not for the faint of heart. And as far as good times go, Nashville North is it. You can’t miss it; it’s a huge white tent on the right, immediately after you enter the grounds. The open space, with its strategically placed live music stage and mini-bars, allow it to sustain the thousands of party-goers while avoiding crowding and huge lines.
As tired as I was, I found myself a dance partner and started two-stepping almost immediately.
Tip: Go earlier, preferably when it’s light out. You’ll want to meet people, listen to the music and truly scope out the scene before everyone’s consumed too much Bud Light (which happens around 10:30 pm).
For more on the Stampede, head back to the series homepage.
Tickets for next year’s Stampede (July 8-17, 2016) are on sale October 5th 2015 at calgarystampede.com. Buy in advance for better seat selection, premium seating and potential discounts. Contact the extremely helpful folks at Travel Alberta and Tourism Calgary for inquires for large groups (20 or more) and for additional help with planning your itinerary. And of course, tell ‘em Trish sent you!