How to Stampede on a Budget
Stampede doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Once inside the gates you can fill your day with completely free activities and savings. A little planning, advance purchasing and packing, and you’ll be set to enjoy your day.
To start, take a look at the Calgary Stampede Value Days. If you’re bringing the whole clan, Suncor Family Day offers free admission between 6am and 9am, as well as a free pancake breakfast for the first 20,000 people between 7am to 9:30am. Western Heritage Day on July 12th offers free all day admission for seniors 65 years and over, and many other free perks. Kids under 12 get in free along with their accompanying adults on BMO Kids Day on July 13th from 7am to 9am.
With your day selected, start your prep. Take a look at show times for any main attractions you want to see, and plan your day accordingly. Your gate admission gives you free access to extreme motorsports at the Bell Adrenaline Ranch, the Canine Stars of the Dog Bowl, and The Peking Acrobats, so pick a show time in advance and get there early to secure a spot.
The same goes for concerts. There’s no need to splurge on concert tickets to catch amazing live music at the Stampede. Check out the stellar line-up of performers on the Coca-Cola Stage, this year featuring Mother Mother, Dear Rouge, The Dudes, The Sheepdogs, and many more, all for free.
Once you’ve mapped out your day, it’s time to pack. You don’t want to be lugging a ton of stuff around, but do bring a water bottle and a few healthy snacks. Eating at the grounds all day quickly adds up, so bring what you can and save your cash for can’t-miss splurges like the newest deep-fried novelty or mini doughnuts.
With parking onsite starting at $25 for the day, not to mention the amount of time you’ll spend stuck in traffic and searching for an elusive spot, save money and sanity by taking transit to the grounds.
Once on the grounds, get off the midway and into the barns. Wander through and visit the animals, check out the interactive, fun displays at the Agrium Ag-tivity in the City, watch the North American Sheep Shearing Challenge, the annual World Stock Dog Championship, or even the vintage tractor pull.
You can also grab rush tickets for the rodeo or chucks and evening grandstand show in person at the box office starting at 11am, usually around $20. And if you don’t splurge on evening show tickets, be sure to wander near the grandstand to watch the fireworks at the end of the evening.
And finally, look outside the grounds for plenty of free or low-cost Stampede experiences. Check out a community pancake breakfast in your area, and don’t forget to kick off your Stampede experience with one of the most beloved, free activities: the Stampede Parade. Bring your chairs and set up early for the best views, and don’t forget to pack water and sunscreen.
Remember, experience is priceless. You may be tempted by tent after tent of stampede merchandise, but sometimes the best souvenir is the memory of a day full of exploration and laughter.