If considering a trip to the Great White North this summer, you’ll be hard pressed to find an event more traditionally Canadian than the Calgary Stampede. First held in 1912, the Calgary Stampede offers the largest purse in outdoor rodeo at over $2 million, but also offers a surprising amount of family fun.
Opening July 3, 2015, but with special events on July 2, and running through July 12, the 10 day Stampede promotes and celebrates Western Canadian heritage and the cultures and communities of Calgary and Alberta.
Visiting Stampede Park
The home of the Calgary Stampede is Stampede Park, a huge facility just southeast of downtown Calgary. Stampede Park features a number of family-friendly zones where kids of all ages can play, learn and enjoy the Stampede. Make sure not to miss the Great FUNtier featuring rides and games for young children and the Agriculture Zone where kids can meet animals and members of the Canadian Military.
Other family-friendly areas include the Big Four Building, which is home to the SuperDogs for the Stampede; the steps of the Saddledome where you can find street performers, marching bands and more; and Buckaroos, an area for kids under age 12, featuring a play structure, giant inflatables and plasma cars.
For a lesson in Canadian history head to the Indian Village, which has been a featured part of the Stampede since 1912. Five First Nations Tribes welcome visitors to experience their traditions and cultures first hand. The area features 27 tipis as well as demonstrations of native traditions and daily life for the tribes.
Character Meet and Greets
Each day of the Calgary Stampede, kids are invited to head to the BMO Kids’ Zone to meet a variety of characters including Dora and Boots, Mike the Knight, Barbie, Diego, SpongeBob SquarePants, Iron Man and Super Man. For a complete schedule of when your kids favorites will be onsite, see the Calgary Stampede Family Schedule.
Kids attending the Calgary Stampede are also invited to join several free, kid-friendly competitions. These include a kids’ pedal tractor pull and a kids’ Chuck Challenge where teams of kids between ages 5 and 10 compete as Chuckwagon Drivers.
The Calgary Stampede features agricultural shows where kids can join in on the fun. The Kids Wild Steer Team Penning show allows kids ages 4 to 8 to get up on stage and try to catch wild steers (made out of hay bales) while the crowd cheers them on.
Straight from Montreal, Quebec, the Cirque Éloize will entertain your kids with modern circus acts, urban dance and acrobats. Kids will be mystified and entertained by incredible breakdancing, body contortionists and watching performances using a trampoline wall.
After all this, you can even take your kids to the Rodeo if you still have time. More than nine events take place over the 10-day Calgary Stampede, each kicking off at 1:30 p.m. daily.
Suncor Family Day
On Sunday July 5, families are invited to Stampede Park to experience Suncor Family Day. Families arriving between 6 and 9 a.m. receive free admission for the day to Stampede Park. There is also a complimentary family breakfast for the first 20,000 guests where families can enjoy the world famous Calgary Stampede pancakes. On Suncor Family Day, families have access to all the activities included normally with park admission and are also invited to experience a few variety shows on the Grandstand stage, which include an Extreme Dunk show by Acrodunk, as well as performances by a Ukrainian Dance troupe, the Calgary Tai Chi Martial Arts College and musical act Dylan Gillet.
BMO Kids’ Day
On July 8, 2015, the Calgary Stampede welcomes kids under age 12 to BMO Kids’ Day. All children under age 12 and their accompanying adults will receive free admission between 7 and 9 a.m. Kids’ Day also features a free pancake breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m., or while quantities last. Kids are welcomed into the park with free thunder sticks and are entered into free draws that take place throughout the morning. There are also deals on kids’ midway coupons for rides that day and a free variety show.
General Admission Costs
Admission to Stampede Park is $18 for adults and children over age 13, $9 for children ages 7 to 9, and free for children under age 6. Families can purchase admission tickets at all entrances to Stampede Park or online. To purchase tickets online in advance, visit the Calgary Stampede website.
— Sarah Pittard
Sarah Pittard is a freelance writer who loves to take her two small children on extended trips and exciting adventures. Sarah features her unique experiences traveling solo with her kids on her website Solo Mom Takes Flight.