Calgary Stampede: Parade

Stampede dates: July 6-15, 2018

Western Riders in the Stampede Parade

The parade opens up the Stampede, and is always the first Friday morning of the Stampede. The parade is always a highlight of the Stampede, even for people who've lived in Calgary all their lives. About the only people who skip it are those hung-over from the night before's festivities.

The parade is televised locally and across Canada (9:30 - 11:30 am). It attracts about 250,000 people, plus another million on TV).

The parade begins west on 9th Avenue at MacLeod Trail, and continues to 10th Street SW, and then east again along 6th Avenue to MacLeod Trail. This is the REVERSE of the trandtional parade route. The parade begins at 9 am, and runs till about noon (depending on where on the route you are).

Parade watching tips

Here are some tips from experienced parade watchers:
  • Park outside the downtown core or catch the C-Train into downtown. The traffic this day is BUSY.
  • Get to your chosen spot early. The police block downtown access for cars by then. The good spots on 6th Ave fill up by 7 am, and on 9th Ave by 8 am. For those taking pictures or videos, head to 9th, so the morning sun is behind you (good tip the TV networks).
  • Bleacher seating gives everyone a view (though you have to pay for it), and your feet don't get as tired in cowboy boots.
  • If you've got children, bring your own refreshments and snacks. If you forget, there are lots of corner street vendors who will help repair your vocal cords. Drummers in Stampede Parade
  • Sit your kids street-side on the curb. That way they'll have an unobstructed view. Watch your kids during the parade, so they don't run up to animals, floats, or mascots.
  • Wear your cowboy hat for protection from the hot sun.
  • After the parade head to the Stephen Avenue Mall, and people watch (all the suits & ties inCalgary have magically disappeared).
  • If you've got kids, head down to the Stampede grounds. Or go to Heritage's not as busy, its harder to lose the kids, and its educational (check out the New-for2009-Gaoline Alley exhibit area.
  • Do your morning shopping or banking outside the downtown core! Most downtown establishments don't open 'til noon because everybody's at the parade.
  • Record the parade on TV. You can relive some of the better floats or bands, and compare notes with friends. The local stations will also replay the parade highlights that evening and again over the weekend.

Insider's Tips

If you have Kids:

  • Head down early to get a spot at the curbside
  • Pack lots of juices and snacks to keep them busy during the wait
  • Scout for public bathrooms and porta-potties so you'll know your way when the crowds are packed in
  • The "Pre Parade" starts about a half hour before the first horses make their way by.

If you are a grown up:

  • If you want to get an early start in the bars on Parade Day, watch the parade on 4th Avenue. You'll get a half hour head start on the others getting into line from 9th Avenue. (unless you are heading to a bar south of 9th Avenue, in which case your "early escape" may be blocked by the Parade, still in progress).
  • You can also watch the parade on the big screens at most of the town's watering holes, which open early all Stampede. Set your Home VCR or Tivo to record the Parade, then you can watch it whenever you return home, instead of waiting for (or just missing) the various stations' encore telecast of the parade.
  • If you want to make a protest or get free advertising: the CFCN/CTV cameras are on 9th Ave west of 8th street and the CBC & Global cameras are between 5th Street and 7th Street. You'll see the positions are picked the night before by the each broadcaster's trailers. Wait for a good float or marching band; then make your move when the networks don't really want to cutaway. NOTE: Because of the unpredictability of animals in the parade, DO NOT move onto the street, or you may find yourself spending Stampede behind bars (nt the liquid kind).
Marching Band in Stampede Parade
More Stampede Parade photos

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