A Day and a Night
Everyone can find a reason to attend the Stampede, but the one reason that all can agree on is the free pancakes. Start the morning with a trip to Rope Square in downtown, where breakfast starts at 9 a.m. with flapjacks, bacon, live music and entertaining impromptu shows by people who either started partying too early or never went to bed the night before.
Still hungry? Calgary has seen a spike in population in the last decade, and with the people have come some delicious contemporary additions, like Jelly Modern Doughnuts. A short walk from the Stampede grounds, this sugar shack offers an array of gourmet treats including the very Canadian Maple Bacon donut.
Fully fueled, it’s time to put on those walking shoes (or walking cowboy boots) for a full day of amusement. It pays to be there for opening day, when the entire city shuts down for the morning kickoff parade. Last year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined the procession of 750 horses and 3,000 people, and imaginations are running wild about how this year will top that.
“The parade completely takes over downtown,” says Cowley, who rode in last year’s parade. “Everyone should see it.”
Even after the roads reopen to traffic, the day-to-day life of Calgary fades away while Stampede is happening. Before stepping foot on the event grounds, it’s a good idea to pick up a traditional white Calgary Smithbilt cowboy hat. The gentle ribbing that city slickers get from authentic ranchers is worth the price.