Story by Jody Robbins
CALGARY, ALBERTA — With kitschy western window murals spotted in the downtown core and city-wide Stampede flags being hoisted, you know it’s that time of year again. Time to dust off yer boots, and get ready for the annual urban cowboy extravaganza that is the Calgary Stampede.
After all the hoopla surrounding last year’s centennial, the Stampede’s getting back to basics, as evidenced by this year’s theme, Stampede 101. Returning to its roots, this new century in Stampede history will focus on the land, the people and the animals that come together to make this event the greatest outdoor show on earth. Here’s a look-see at what’s in store for this year.
Houston, we have a Parade Marshall. In a case of the Twitterverse meeting the universe, the Stampede reached out via Twitter to Commander Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to helm the International Space Station. Hadfield accepted the invitation to be this year’s Parade Marshal via a tweet, and the interchange trended for days. Calgary is confident its western frontier will be every bit as stimulating as the final frontier.
Rock and Roll All Night
“KISS is an iconic rock band that really needs no introduction,” says Paul Rosenberg, the Stampede’s vice-president programming. “Bringing a range of music genres to the Calgary Stampede helps cater to the diversity of our guests.”
The loyalty of Cowtown’s KISS Army to the “Hottest Band in the World” is expected to be painted on their faces.Tickets start at $59 and are on sale via Ticketmaster.
Sorry rockers, tickets for one of Fort Calgary’s biggest parties, Stampede Round Up, have already sold out. Those who managed to score tickets for the July 10 event are expected to hang up their stetsons and bring out the banger hair for the heavy rock lineup featuring Def Leppard, Cheap Trick and Sloan.
Still wanting to whoop it up at the Fort? Tickets are available for the annual Oxford Stomp, which takes place July 12 and features Counting Crows, Third Eye Blind and the Wallflowers.
But perhaps the most anticipated concerts during the Stampede are the free (with Stampede Park admission) performances at the Coca-Cola Stage. The lineup brings big names such as Hedley, the Sam Roberts Band, k-os, Down With Webster and Dragonette, in addition to YouTube sensation Walk Off The Earth.
New to the Midway this year is the Bell aqua ranch, a pool the size of a hockey rink where extreme jet skiers make waves and fountains shoot water 70 feet high. Here, the H2X Extreme Watershow will take place for the first time in an outdoor setting during daily performances. Once the sun sets, take in Out of the Blue, a hypnotic water display synchronized to the finale of the spectacular TransAlta Grandstand Show fireworks.
Don’t try this after your lunch: Mach 3 is comprised of two sets of four seats rotating 360 degrees 13 times a minute. The extreme tummy tumbler produces a g-force acceleration rate of 3.5g on its riders, making all those mechanical bull rides seem tame by comparison.
Looking for a few laughs or perhaps a chance to bond with your brood? Slip into the Stampede Corral and take in Family Feud Live!, this year’s ENMAX Corral Show. The audience participation production gives contestants the opportunity to win as much as $50,000 over the 10-day festival. The show runs daily at 2 pm, 4 pm, and 7 pm (with a special showing at 10 am on July 7, 9 and 10).
Toting tots? Buckaroos is where you’ll find entertainment for the little wranglers. Thomas and Friends, Angelina Ballerina, Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder are just a few of the characters set to dance up a storm.
Making sweet melodies, this year’s TransAlta Grandstand Show is focusing on five genres of music — performed by The Young Canadians and the Alberta Ballet. Special guests include KISS tribute band Destroyer, Freddie Mercury performer Marc Martel, Donovan Seidle of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and Michelle Minke from Calgary Opera. Stunning special effects will include a flying baby grand piano and those fabulous fireworks.
Tickets for the Calgary Stampede Evening Show sold out last year, so secure yours online . Evening Show tickets ($54) include a seat to the thundering GMC Rangeland Derby Chuckwagon Races, the TransAlta Grandstand Show and a prime vantage point for the nightly fireworks.
More About the Calgary Stampede 2013
Ticket Packages: Stampede-goers can purchase packages for the KISS show (starting at $185) as well as all rodeo and Grandstand events.
More Info: Visit the Calgary Stampede’s website for more on pricing and event schedules.
More Coverage: See photos, videos and articles about the 2012 Calgary Stampede on Vacay.ca.