Calgary Stampede with Kids (So Much More than a Rodeo!)

With a top-notch zoo, science center, and historical village, Calgary in Alberta is flush with family attractions. The big draw, however, is the Calgary Stampede. Billing itself as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Stampede is so much more than a rodeo. For 10 days each July, the entire city gets behind this western extravaganza. Here’s a look at all the fun to be had at the Calgary Stampede with kids.

Calgary Stampede with Kids ~ So Much More than a Rodeo!
Calgary Stampede with kids (Photo credit: Calgary Stampede)

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Calgary Stampede Parade

There’s no better way to celebrate Stampede week than by watching the iconic parade. Complete with marching bands, fantastic floats, and western riders, it takes place on the first Friday of Stampede. You’ll want to rise with the roosters and line either 6 or 9 Ave. S.W. before the kick off at 8:55am. Pre-parade entertainment keeps the young ‘ens occupied before the festivities begin.

Pancake breakfast at Calgary Stampede with kids
Over 200,000 free pancakes are served up during Stampede! (Photo credit: Calgary Stampede)

Calgary Stampede Breakfast

It takes a lot of energy to rope ‘em, ride ‘em, and milk ‘em, so fuel up at one of the many free Calgary Stampede breakfasts running across the city. Sausage and pancakes are what’s usually on tap, but indy coffee shops and pubs often offer more variety.

Good to know: a Stampede breakfast is not just breakfast! After the carb-fest, take in First Nations dancers, live country music, and pony rides. Then get cuddly with the animals at the mobile petting zoo.

Agriculture Discovery Zone ~ Calgary Stampede with kids
Wannabe farmers have a hoot in the Agriculture Discovery Zone (Photo credit: Calgary Stampede)

Stampede Park

The rodeo and chuckwagon races are certainly worth seeing at Stampede Park, but the big draw at Calgary Stampede with kids is the Great FUNtier. This children’s midway has just the right size rides and carnie games. Animal lovers will want to suss out the Agriculture Discovery Zone, where you can wander through the horse stalls, pet sheep, meet cows, and try your hand at farm-style activities.

Find loads of free entertainment at Stampede Park, too! Trick riders and marching bands delight crowds daily. Superdogs compete in agility tournaments with high-flying stunts that will wow canine enthusiasts. That’s not all. Your kid’s favorite TV characters (like Dora, Thomas, or Angelina Ballerina) take to the Coca-Cola Stage all throughout the day.

Stampede Park ~ Calgary Stampede with Kids
Children love riding plush horses at Stampede Park (Photo credit: Calgary Stampede)

Learn more about First Nation’s culture at Indian Village. Here, the Tribes of Treaty 7 set up tipis and live at Stampede Park during the 10-day festival, just as their ancestors did over 100 years ago. Curious guests can wander through the village, check out the tipis, try some bannock (frybread), and watch performances.

True, the name Indian Village, doesn’t sound very PC. But realize it was First Nations elders who decided to let the name stand when the Calgary Stampede offered to change it.

When to go? Free admission to Stampede Park is offered on the Wednesday and first Sunday of Stampede if you arrive before 9 a.m. Besides free entry, there’s also a complimentary pancake breakfast and special entertainment.

Female trick rider at the Calgary Stampede ~ Calgary Stampede with kids
Even if you’re not into rodeo, the entertainment is mesmerizing for all family members (Photo credit: Calgary Stampede)

Off-Site Entertainment

One little Stampede secret guarded by locals is hitting up the city’s attractions during the festival. Western Canada’s largest amusement park, Calaway Park has barely any crowds during Stampede.

It’s also a great time to hit up Heritage Park, a historical village that offers old fashioned family fun with its antique midway, steam train and paddleboat. The Calgary Tower, Calgary Zoo and TELUS Spark, the city’s science centre are also good attractions to check out during this time. Read about even more things to do in Calgary with kids.

Stampede is one of those iconic events you have to see to believe. Even if you’re not a cowboy or cowgirl, Calgarians routinely don stetsons and cowboy boots during Stampede week. It’s like Mardi Gras with a touch of the Olympics, and I can think of no better time to visit Calgary than during the Stampede.

Learn More

From nature play to science learning, discover what to do in Saskatchewan with kids.

For a wild family vacation, explore kid-friendly activities in Canada’s Yukon.

Find bears and beyond in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Horse lovers will enjoy watching the Tournament of Roses EquestFest and riding on horseback to the Hollywood Sign during a vacation in Burbank, California.

Would you like to attend the Calgary Stampede with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. This is indeed a very interesting attraction where the kids can have tons of fun! It’s nice that they can actually participate in some of the activities – this way they won’t get bored too quickly.