In the Cowtown of the West, the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, or what is better known as the Calgary Stampede, I looked around and realized: This is what being at the biggest bro-fest on earth is like, and it was glorious.
Our Stampede trip started at Seatac Airport in Seattle, WA where we drank pretty phenomenal bloody marys and stuck out like a sore thumb in our necessary cowboy hats. Some of us coming from as far as Dubai, we rounded up the troops and before we knew it we were eating two foot long corn dogs and getting turned down by beautiful Canadian women unimpressed by our overwhelming eagerness to go to party town.
Calgary shuts down for Stampede. It SHUTS DOWN. Seemingly every Calgarian is all in on this thing, from the tourist bars to the staple breakfast joints tucked into the heart of the urban core and spilling into the random people selling cowboy hats on the corners of the downtown corridors, It’s a party you can’t miss. The people are saints for putting up with the BS brought along with over-eager tourists, and we definitely fell into the latter party.
Our first night in town we ventured out with no idea what to do besides find a smoldering hot dome to party in, and stumbled upon an oasis of gorgeous woman in the Wildhorse tent (http://wildhorsesaloon.ca/). By the end of the trip we realized this was the best place we could have discovered. With a little less fanfare than the other popular party spots (Cowboys Casino, Nashville North http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/music/nashville-north) and about the size of a football field, Wildhorse was the perfect size to wander around and chop it up with everyone. The music was on point, which alternated between a DJ playing Top 40 Country generic stuff and a better than expected live AC/DC cover band appropriately titled BC/DC, and the setting was amazing. No sweaty carnival/festival vibes happening which was great. We danced for about 6 straight hours and broke in our boots then hit up the hot dog stand at about 3am before keeping the party rolling at the hotel. Side note: there is an option to garnish your hot dog with captain crunch cereal. Do not garnish your hot dog with Captain Crunch cereal.
Hanging out in cut-off jean shorts (jorts) and custom horse-art tee shirts, at legendary Cowboys Stampede Tent Saturday night, (http://cowboysnightclub.com/stampede/) we discussed just how nice (read: Canadian) everyone was. In a city absolutely overrun by drunkards dressed up like Woody from Toy Story for 10 straight days we couldn’t see any semblance of aggression or even annoyance given the setting. Then again, we could have just been completely ignorant and enjoying our 15th can of Molson’s Canadian.
I can’t recommend this trip enough, it truly is an experience. Lastly, the hotel did charge us for extensive cleaning due to “stains consistent with alcohol and tobacco byproducts”. But it was worth it, we tipped our cleaners well, and no one died, and that’s all that matters. Plus the hotel pool has a mini waterslide. Do what you will with that. See you next year Stampede.
Free pancake breakfast at dozens of restaurants, all throughout the city, if you can make it there before 11am. Watch out for lines though. Speaking of lines, buying any sort of pass to skip the line to the main party tents is a good idea. Otherwise, be ready for 2-3 hours in some cases of waiting to get in. Upside, no wait once you’re in due to the dozens of beer troughs/bars.