The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is one of the largest annual festivals in the world. Held early in July, the Calgary Stampede is one of the most popular attractions in Canada and the largest rodeo in the world. The event features a world renowned rodeo, a carnival midway, agricultural and floral design competitions, a trail ride, casino and musical performances from country to rock.
The city celebrates with free, outdoor pancake breakfasts and western themed decorations. Service industry personnel are encouraged to dress in their best western attire. The week long festivities begin with an annual Stampede Parade through the downtown core that attracts more than 2,000,000 viewers.
The Calgary Stampede began as the Calgary Exhibition, first held in 1886. The Calgary Stampede was first held as a separate event in 1912, and offered the highest cash prize of any rodeo in North America. A few years later the Exhibition and the Stampede were combined and became an annual event.
The event continued to grow and by the 1970s attendance passed 1,000,000 visitors. In the 1980s, the prize money reached an impressive $500,000. By the turn of the millennium cash prizes would reach $1,000,000, putting the Calgary Stampede rodeo competitions among the best in the world.
The Stampede Grounds are easily accessed, simply by hopping on the local Light Rail Transit (LRT) system that runs through the downtown along 7th Avenue. The LRT is free to ride along 7th avenue, which is only four blocks north of the Stampede grounds themselves. Alternatively, visitors can pay a minimal fee (about 2$ CDN) and ride right to the Stampede’s front door (on Macleod Trail South).