Thinking about making a trip to Calgary next summer. I've heard from a few people that the stampede was a major summer event. Is it worth attending? What activities are held there?
That depends. The city is crawling with people for the Stampede. But if you like crowds, there is plenty to do. The fair grounds are full of your typical carnival foods, rides, and games. A great way to lighten your wallet, but fun if you like that kind of activity. The rodeo is also there for those who like to see cowboys and cowgirls match wits and skills with ornery animals. But off the fairgrounds there are lots of activities as well. Free breakfasts abound all over town and you need never go hungry in the morning. (But be wary, the breakfasts are popular and there will be oodles and oodles of people.) Various events and activities are held around the city celebrating the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. The city typically becomes worthy of its claim to being the friendliest place on Earth during this time, and you will likely make many new friends during your visit. Don't forget your cowboy boots and jeans. Even the most strait-laced places of business give in to the Stampede dress code.
And if you get tired of the crowds in town, try some of the great natural beauty nearby the city. The mountains and Banff and Lake Louise are an hour away to the west. Rolling plains, great blue skies, clean lakes and rivers, historical areas and nature all await within a short drive, and can take you away from the maddening crowds.
The weather at that time is typically very nice with little rain and lots of heat. But Calgary's weather is very changeable and suitable care should be taken in choosing how to fill your suitcase, particularly if you go into the mountains for a day or two.
It is if you want to experience the city when everyone dresses up like a cowboy/girl, tons of parties, an amusement park, free breakfast every morning, the rodeo and everything horse and cow related and finally, artists (such as Rascal Flatts and Faith Hill) perform.
Just one thing. It's also known as a time of debauchery where most will turn a blind eye... I'd recommend it if you want to let loose, don't have kids and want a taste of cowboy related entertainment.
Whether the Calgary Stampede is worth a visit really depends on your interests and what you are looking for. As someone who has lived in Calgary for 6 years I would absolutely say that it is the best time of year to visit Calgary, but other people might disagree.
The Stampede is a combination of a whole bunch of things. There is a big fair, with all of the common fair rides and crazy deep fried foods. There is a Rodeo going on everyday that you can go a watch, featuring bull riding and a bunch of other rodeo events. Every night their are chuck wagon races ( a bunch of horses pulling guys on wagons around), and then a big grand stand show with music and fireworks. There is also a bunch of big name country musicians playing concerts and usually some non-country artists as well.
Outside of the sanctioned Stampede events the whole city is taking over by people dressed up as cowboys and cow girls getting drunk and partying like crazy. Cowboys is a pretty famous bar in Calgary that has a giant tent set up during stampede and is probably the place to be for most people in their twenties during stampede.
I think Stampede is such a great time to visit Calgary because you can get a taste of a really cool event, but then since it is the middle of summer you can still drive out to Banff which is only a hour away, see the Canadian Rockies and do some spectacular hiking and outdoor activities.
The Stampede can be fun depending on what you are looking for. The whole city participates so there is a great vibe. If you go make sure you go to the grand stand for a show, try out one of the stampede breakfast locations and a beer garden.