Calgary Stampede: Downtown Guide

by Leah Wong · 1 comment

There’s only a few days until the Calgary Stampede begins, meaning it’s time to start planning your 10 days of fun and excitement! Stampede events are not limited to the grounds, there’s plenty of activities to take in around the city.  Here is your guide to what’s happening in the downtown core.

The Parade

The Stampede Parade signals the start of the Stampede each year.  This year the two-hour parade happens on July 9.  The Parade Prelude starts at 7:30am, and the main parade starts at 8:55am.  About 80 per cent of seating along 9th Avenue and 6th Avenue is free, spaces available on a first come first serve basis.  You can also purchase tickets for reserved bleacher seats on the Calgary Stampede Parade website, starting at $27/seat.  Some sections have already sold out.

The parade follows a 4.5km route, running along 6th Avenue from 3rd Street SE, making it’s turn at 10th Street SW, down to 9th Avenue, and finishes up at 4th Street SE.

Tips for Parade Day

  • Come early to claim your seats.  With the exception of the ticketed bleachers, seating is first come first serve.
  • Come prepared! Bring rain gear if there’s a chance of showers, but don’t open umbrellas during the parade as it blocks the parade from people watching behind you.  Apply sunscreen regardless of the weather, as you can burn even if it is overcast.  Hats, sunglasses and lots of water are key to avoiding heat exhaustion.
  • Have an idea of where the closest washroom is located, especially if you’re bringing your kids.  The HOSTs will be out around different quadrants of the parade, able to help you located a washroom.
  • If you need to cross the route once the Parade Prelude has started, make note of the closest +15.   If there is not one nearby, locate a Street Marshall or police officer to take you across the road.
  • Keep an eye on your kids!  There’s a golden rule of “bums to the curb, feet to the gutter” to ensure the parade has four full lanes.  It is unsafe for children to run into the street during the parade, so encourage them to wave and Yahoo! from their seats.
  • Certain roads will be closed from 7:30am until the parade finishes at approximately 12pm.  Check the Parade website for information.
  • If you’re stuck at home, parade coverage begins on CBC at 9:30am.  It can also be streamed online from this time on CBC Sports.

Rope Square

The main ongoing attraction downtown is Fluor Rope Square in Olympic Plaza.  Rope Square performances and competitions run Monday-Saturday starting July 10.  The performances range  from the Calgary Stampede Youth Talent Showdown - showcasing young Calgary talent - to rope square veteran Keith Hitchner and Highwood.  The kick-off to each morning of Rope Square events is the Chuckwagon Breakfasts, with pancakes being served from 8:15-10am.

There are opportunities for audience participation with the Lammle’s Hat Stomp - where competitors destroy a cowboy hat in 30 seconds - and the Fluor Flapjack Flip Contest - where competitors are judged on their ability to flip and catch pancakes!

One of my favourite parts of taking in the Stampede celebration downtown, is the Fluor Square Dancers.  They are located on Stephen Avenue Walk between 1st St. Sw and Centre St. Here you can learn to Do Sa Do and Allemande Left.  Square dancing is easy to learn and the volunteers at the square are extremely patient and kind.

F0r anyone wanting to take an old-fashioned ride through the downtown core, get on down to Olympic Plaza at 8:30 am to get tickets for the Old Time Rig Ride.  Tickets are free, and distributed on a first come first serve basis.  Passengers are asked to meet at the plaza at 9:30 am, with the wagons departing at 10am.  The ride takes about an hour, and passengers can even catch a ride to the Stampede Grounds after the downtown tour.

On days Rope Square is running, there is a daily Indian Parade through downtown.  The five First Nations who signed the Treaty Seven in 1877 have members in the parade.

For more information about Downtown Attractions Stampede events, check out their website!

Stampede Breakfasts

Looking for a pancake breakfast during Stampede?  Well, Flap Jack Finder is your guide to breakfasts around the city.  For anyone with an iPhone, download the app to have the guide right at your fingertips.  If you’re around Stephen Avenue Walk, you’ll find breakfasts from Monday-Saturday along the avenue and in Olympic Plaza.

Start your pancake consumption at the First Flip breakfast on July 8, 2010.  The breakfast is located on Stephen Avenue Walk between 1 Street SE and Centre Street from 7:30am and 10:30 am.  The event is free, with live entertainment.  This is also your chance to bid on one-of-a-kind cowboy hats created by local artists, with profits going to “This is My City“.

Stampede Fashion

The CORE shopping will be hosting their annual fashion show on July 8 at noon on Stephen Avenue Walk between 2nd and 3rd Street SW.  Enjoy fashions from Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, Browns, and other retailers.  They will also be handing some prizes and gift bags at the show.

Many retailers downtown sell western attire, so you can Cowboy (or Cowgirl) up for Stampede.  With new stores opening in the CORE there are lots of places to find your western gear.  Along Stephen Avenue Walk, Riley & McCormick’s, Lammle’s, and the Calgary Shoe Hospital and Western Store all have a wide selection of western wear and cowboy hats.

Other Information

On Parade Day, there will be detours for many of the bus routes running downtown.  The C-Train will be running 24-hours for Stampede starting Thursday, July 9 and ending the morning of Monday, July 19. Note that schedules for many routes have been adjusted to accommodate the increased ridership during the Stampede.  For more details about Transit Stampede Service, check the website.

During Stampede there will be special information booths set up on Stephen Avenue Walk.  The HOSTs will be out Monday-Saturday,  so feel free to stop us and ask any questions you might have.

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