Stampede comes but once a year, but its presence over the city of Calgary during those ten days looms large. For kids, it’s a fun time filled with magical entertainment, delicious treats and fun games. Sensory overload! For families, Stampede can be a tough time due to cost and logistics. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of Stampede. Be Prepared!
- Calgary’s weather is unpredictable at times and it has been known to snow every month of the year. Though that’s not usually the case in July, Stampede goes on rain or shine so make sure you pack sunscreen, hats and water bottles just in case the weather is hot – and raincoats or umbrellas in case we get one of those famous flash thunderstorms.
- Whether it’s taking transit downtown for the parade or spending the day at Stampede Park, whatever your chosen activity, there is likely to be a lot of walking involved. Make sure the shoes your kids (and you!) wear are comfortable.
- Take public transport – not only is it cheaper than parking or taxis, it is way less frustrating than trying to navigate around the many road closures (especially on parade day) and busy streets filled with lost tourists. Extra tip: Stampede Park closes at 11pm, but leave before 10:30pm to avoid huge crowds at the C-Train platforms.
- Bring cash with you. Not all vendors accept debit or credit cards and ATMs onsite will often charge you huge fees after you’ve waited in a long line-up.
- Stampede is busy. Kids get lost. Have a plan in advance so that your kids know where to go if they get separated from you. For younger kids, teach them to look out for police or Stampede staff and ask them to identify themselves. Better yet, get your kids tagged by the Lost Kids team so that if you become separated, the Lost Kids Patrol will know how to contact you.
Ways to save during Stampede
- There are three value days at Stampede, which can help families save the costly admission fees. Just remember, the cheapest days are also the busiest days.
- On Friday, July 7, go straight from the parade to Stampede Park. Admission is free until 1:30 pm.
- Family day is another value day. On Sunday, July 9 entry is free from 8am until noon.
- Kids’ Day is on Wednesday, July 12. For kids 12 & under (with an adult), entry is free from 7 – 9 am and $2 all day after that.
- Every Calgarian knows that Stampede time is synonymous for free Pancake Breakfasts. Check out the breakfast calendar to find a location near you and pack up the kids for a free and filing start to your summer day.
- Speaking of food, every year, the Stampede features a new selection of mouth-watering and strange treats. This year’s plate includes unicorn white hot chocolate, crispy chicken feet on a stick and deep-fried Jell-O. While your family may want to try them all, purchasing food on grounds isn’t cheap. If you’re there all day, pack lunches so that you only have to buy one meal from the Midway. If your kids want to try a few different flavours of gourmet weirdness, tell them they can each choose one option and share.
- For cheaper food onsite, check out Weadickville, just west of the Coca Cola stage and north of the Big Four Building.
- Even if you plan on buying food onsite, bring a backpack with water. On hot days, this will save you a lot of money. To keep water cool all day, prepare the night before by pouring out a few inches of water off the top and putting the bottle into the freezer. In the morning, put a bit of extra water back in, otherwise the block might not start to melt by the time you want to drink.