The Calgary Stampede starts on Friday, July 8, 2011 with the Calgary Stampede Parade. Here’s a guide to all the activities and events happening ind downtown Calgary to help you plan your 10 days of fun! Stampede events are not limited to the park and the LRT is a convenient way to travel to downtown, although it’s also walkable if you’re feeling adventurous.
The Stampede Parade signals the start of the Stampede each year. This year the two-hour parade happens on July 8. The Parade Prelude starts at 7:30am, and the main parade starts at 8:55am. Most of the seating along 9th Avenue and 6th Avenue is free and spaces along the curb are available on a first come first serve basis. You can also purchase tickets for reserved bleacher seats on the Calgary Stampede Parade website.
This year the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will kick off the parade. Their Royal Highnesses will drive in a motorcade along the parade route. To see the motorcade, you should be in place at the parade by 8:30 a.m. They will be travelling west from the 9th Avenue and 3rd Street S.E. area. Here’s a good map of the route. When the motorcade completes its route, Their Royal Highnesses will join Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Parade Marshal Rick Hansen to officially begin the parade, but they will not travel in the actual parade.
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. Generally 9th Avenue fills up later than 6th Avenue, but it takes the parade longer to get there.
- 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. There will be portable toilets on most of the streets near 6th and 9th Avenues.
- 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, ask a Street Marshall or police officer to take you across the road.
- 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.
- Roads into downtown will be closed from 7:30am until the parade finishes at approximately 12pm.
- Live coverage of William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at the Calgary Stampede begins on CBC at 8:00am and the Calgary Stamped Parade coverage starts at 10:00am.
Fluor Rope Square
The main attraction downtown is Fluor Rope Square in Olympic Plaza. Rope Square performances and competitions start Saturday, July 9 and again Monday to Saturday starting July 11 (there are no performances on Sundays).
- Each morning there’s Chuckwagon Breakfasts, with pancakes and bacon served from 8:15-10am.
- Try the Lammles Hat Stomp – where competitors destroy a cowboy hat in 30 seconds or for the cooks in the family there’s the Fluor Flapjack Flip Contest – where competitors are judged on their ability to flip and catch pancakes!
- You can learn to square dance from the Downtown Attractions Square Dancers. They’re on Stephen Avenue Walk between 1st Street SW and Centre Street. Don’t be shy, square dancing is easy to learn and the volunteers are extremely patient and kind.
- If you want to take an old-fashioned ride through downtown, get to Olympic Plaza at 8:30am (or earlier) to get tickets for the Old Time Rig Ride. Tickets are free, and distributed on a first come first serve basis. Passengers meet at the plaza at 9:30 am and the wagons depart at 10am. The ride takes about an hour, and passengers can even catch a ride to Stampede Park after the tour.
- There’s also a daily Indian Parade through downtown that passes along Stephen Avenue.
For more information about Downtown Attractions Stampede events, check out their website.
Looking for a pancake breakfast during Stampede? Well, FlapJack Finder is your guide to pancake breakfasts around the city. For anyone with an iPhone, download the app to have the guide right at your fingertips or you can check it along with the weather every morning. If you’re around Stephen Avenue Walk, you’ll find breakfasts from Monday-Saturday along the avenue and in Olympic Plaza.
Many retailers downtown sell western wear, so you can get everything you need for Stampede. The CORE has lots of stores for jeans, boots and styles for the office and the parties afterwards. Along Stephen Avenue Walk, Riley & McCormick’s, Lammles Western Wear and tack, and the Calgary Shoe Hospital and Western Store all have a wide selection of western wear and cowboy hats. In Fashion Central there’s Vintage Collective in the basement for unique western pieces and Betsey Johnson for the perfect dress to go with your new boots.
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 7 and ending the morning of Monday, July 18. 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 and ask any questions you might have.