It’s the time of year Calgary is most known for. We have done 100 of these now so it is a habit.
For those who don’t know, from July 6 -July 15 will be the 100th Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. It will be a time when Cowboys and Cowgirls from Calgary, and quite frankly around the world will come celebrate in traditional western gear and celebrate.
It starts with the world famous parade, which will feature the Calgary Stampede Marching Band and marshalled this year by Ian Tyson and seven honorary First Nation Leaders. From there, you will get too see the traditional western things . The Rodeo, Chuckwagon races, the Grandstand Show. Of course the rides, concerts, the food (Mini-Donuts people!). Games, special concerts. Nashville North, Coca-Cola Stage.A million people will go the Stampede this year. I would suspect more considering it is the 100 year.
This year, they will be adding a few new features. There will be the longest temporary Zip Line in Canada which will get you across Stampede Park. A real Alberta Focus showcasing provincial talent at the Bell Centennial Plaza. The evening Fireworks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will take place from the four quadrants of the city, NE,NW,SE, SW to combine to an amazing light show
The Grounds and for that matter, the entire city is live with excitement. The city exerts as much energy as possible. Downtown Calgary has a lot of “long working lunches” this time of year.The LRT will run 24 hours. Every one will be encouraged, strongly to dress western and will. Some authentic western. Some also lesser known. The girls in the cowboy hats and bikinis. And of course, we will see urban cowboy and of course, hipster cowboy.
Every day, you will be able to find a Pancake Breakfast. Not one, you will probably have time for 3 if you are sharp and plan well. Did you know there is an app called the Flapjack Finder for your Smart Phone? That will help you plan.
I am one of the very few people on this city that can seem to call themselves a lifetime Calgarian. The Stampede has been added to my DNA. I would not call myself a cowboy. At times I have argued with God on why I live here. But the reality of Calgary is that is much broader then the Stampede. There is lots too do and some gems that if you come to Calgary, you should take part in.
The East Village in Inglewood has revived that part of the city. It is just east of downtown. It has some neat shops and restaurants that you can go too. One being Gravity, or Spolumbo’s as well. There are other areas like that too. Take some time to explore Bridgeland, Kensington, 17 Ave, Marda Loop for some great places too.
If you need to relax in a park and catch some sun, I must warn you the weather here changes on average of 3 times a minute.But when the sun is here, Prince’s Island Park, Glenmore Park, Edworthy Park,Fish Creek Park are great places to walk. Prince;s Island Park has the somewhat controversial, but overall peaceful and pretty Peace Bridge. It was controversial because of the time and the money it took to actually build this bridge.But it got done and people use it.
If you need some views to see the city, particularly for fireworks (The natural ones, I’m sure you will see symbolic fireworks throughout the week). There is Crescent Heights, Signal Hill, Scotsman Hill to name a few places to look over the city. Truth is, there is many places to see the Calgary Tower and over look downtown.
If you need to get away, and believe me there will be a time you might want to escape, travel west and look for Banff. Before that, stop in a couple of nice towns called Canmore and Cochrane. Cochrane has a great Ice Cream shop called Mackays which has been around since 1948. It has amazing Ice Cream, There will be a lineup, but it will be worth it.
Another unique thing in this city that has caught fire is Food Trucks. You get pretty much get anything on these trucks. You can actually go on http://www.yycfoodtrucks.com/ to find locations.
There are other gems in this city. Some best kept restaurants in the city. For brunch like Diner Deluxe,Blue Star Diner and Mission. Great jazz club like Beat Niq Jazz Club. Or how about Tango, Open Range or Peter’s Drive In.
I was at a conference in Ottawa last September. It is an annual education conference that is hosted in every city. This year Calgary will be hosting it. It so happens it is a tradition with every tourist or travel event, we introduce it with our white hat ceremony. It is a cowboy hat,we give to special people that come to the city or give as a gift when dignitaries travel, I think it is nice unique thing about Calgary, but I also think we are so much more then that.Maybe it’s my non-cowboy look on things, but the many different people coming from all over Canada to work here has made this city more then the conservative or redneck reputation it gets. Or gives out as vibe for that matter.
Sp please, come for the Stampede. Enjoy it. But while you are here, catch the true heart of the city. You will enjoy it more then you know.