By Kristy Koehler, June 19 2019—
For ten days in July, Calgary gets its ‘Yahoo’ on and becomes a beacon of western hospitality, welcoming visitors from around the world to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth — the Calgary Stampede!
Whether you’re new to Calgary and taking in the Stampede for the first time, or a seasoned Stampede-loving veteran looking for some tips and tricks, the Gauntlet has you covered. Read on for a student’s guide to saving money during the best ten days of the year.
Eat free all week:
Free campus pizza is the hungry student’s food of choice from September – April. In July, free pancakes are a welcome break from the two-topping treats all the clubs and volunteer groups hand out to lure you into their events.
Malls, parking lots, green spaces and assorted businesses around town come alive with the smell of pancake batter. There are flapjacks of every variety, in every quadrant of the city, available for absolutely free. The only catch — you’ve gotta wake up early. As the week progresses and your Stampede partying increases, that’ll get harder and harder. There are two solutions to this problem — either stay up all night and grab breakfast before you head to bed, or recognize that free food is worth powering through a rough morning.
Among the best of the breakfasts is the one in Fluor Rope Square, also known as Olympic Plaza. A chuckwagon breakfast — yep, breakfast literally served from the back of a chuckwagon — is available from 8:15–10:30 a.m. on July 6 and again from July 8–13. The CTrain stops steps from the square, so these pancakes are easy to get your hands on. It’s also just another short train ride from square to the Stampede grounds, so hit this breakfast up on your way to a day at the grounds.
The Calgary Stampede Caravan Committee sets up in major shopping centers around the city every morning of Stampede. Market Mall, Cross Iron Mills, Dalhousie Station and Sunridge Mall are just a few of the spots converted into bona fide feasting grounds, rain or shine. See what day the Caravan stops at a mall near you by checking out the online schedule.
Some breakfasts offer bacon, sausages, berries and cream and other additions, while cultural centers often showcase a free taste of the city’s diverse traditions. Both freestampedepancakes.com and stampedebreakfast.ca offer breakfast listings and descriptions. Make a plan and get your fill of flapjack freebies.
Save some cash with SuperPass:
On sale until July 1, the Stampede SuperPass gives you unlimited entry to the Stampede grounds for all ten days.
If Stampede is part of your plans for multiple days, the SuperPass is the only way to go. A one-day admission ticket costs $18, so by the third day, your $39 SuperPass has paid for itself. You can even come and go from the grounds as many times as you like — just grab a re-entry stamp on your way out.
Purchase the pass on Ticketmaster and download the barcode onto your phone — if your phone dies, there’s a SuperPass booth with a charger so you can boost the battery long enough to get your pass scanned. They’ve thought of everything — probably because this ain’t their first rodeo.
If you’d rather save your money for the beer garden or whatever the de rigueur snazz-on-a-stick is this year, head to the grounds during one of the value days.
July 7 is Cenovus Family Day with free entry before 11 a.m. and McDonald’s Community Day on July 9 offers twoonie admission between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The full schedule of value days is online.
Make sure to get in line early if you plan on taking advantage of a value day — there’s plenty of cowpokes looking to save money and if you’re too late, you’ll be paying regular admission.
Calgary Transit operates the CTrain round-the-clock during Stampede. If you aren’t enrolled in spring or summer courses you won’t have a summer UPass, but not to worry, there’s discounted rates every day. Adult day passes, valid for one full day from July 4–14, are available through ticket vending machines at all CTrain stations Adult day passes are $7, down from the regular $10.75.
There’s a concert — or three! – every day of Stampede, and it ain’t all banjos and twang either. Once you’re on the grounds, there’s no ticket needed to listen live to some of the hottest music on the radio today. Daytime at the Coca-Cola Stage offers local bands like Shuffalo and The Shiverettes, while evening headliners are the likes of Feist, Mother Mother, T-Pain and Death Cab for Cutie. The Big Four Roadhouse lineup includes Classified, The Trews and Hanson, and Nashville North, the iconic tent-party, has headliners that keep it a little more country, like Emerson Drive and Jess Moskaluke.
This year, the University of Calgary once again continues its partnership with the Calgary Stampede. A promo code for 20% off Evening Show tickets is available for use by the university community. This includes the GMC Rangeland Derby — also known as the chuckwagon races — and The Bell Grandstand Show. The title of this year’s Grandstand Show is Trailblazer and the theme takes its inspiration from the traveling shows of the early 20th Century. In addition to song and dance, the show culminates with a fantastic fireworks display. Tickets are available for the discounted evening shows July 7–10 and the promo code is valid until June 28. Head to calgarystampede.com/ucalgary and use code UCalgary for your discounted seats.
There’s no need to blow your student loan on ten days of fun — but if you want to, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to splurge. Use the savings we’ve shared with you and spend your extra cash on a chimney cake ice cream covered in 24 karat gold — gotta look good for the ‘gram!