Inside the most urban guy is an inner cowboy who longs to trade in his cubicle for wide open spaces and to break broncos instead of crunching numbers. Luckily, the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede (July 6 — 15) is riding up on the horizon. It may be your first time at the rodeo, but with our insider’s guide you’ll be an old-hand in no time.
Look the Part
Rustle up the Stampede’s official headgear at Smithbilt, maker of cowboy hats since 1919 and the city’s official supplier of the Calgary White Hat (choose from the economical Centennial canvas, $20; the long-wearing merino wool, $80; and the deluxe fur, $225). A favourite of Hollywood royalty like Brad Pitt and Jake Gyllenhaal, the top-of-the-line model also graced the crowns of the William and Kate when they visited last year.
Dogg and Pony
Buy your tickets online, skip the line and belly up to the bar at Cowboys. Line dance to live performances by Nashville’s Big & Rich and Canadian country-rockers Blue Rodeo, bust out your best club moves for internationally renowned DJs Gareth Emery and Steve Aoki, or — in what may be the most kickass genre-bender of the year — pimp it with rap master Snoop Dogg. Yippee-yo yippee-yay…
Beat the heat after a day on the Stampede Grounds with poolside cocktails at the Hotel Arts, a veritable oasis in the heart of the city. Admission is free for hotel guests, but $25 gets anyone an all-day pass.
It may be Stampede in Calgary, but in Pamplona, Spain the caballeros will be gathering for the annual Running of the Bulls. Order up a late lunch of jamon serrano and a glass of Tempranillo at Spanish tapas spot Ox and Angela and watch the guts and glory unfold.
By the Horns
Earn your spurs with a turn on the mechanical bull at Ranchman’s. The self-styled “Stampede Party Headquarters” for the past 40 years, this roadhouse goes extra wild as it caters to Stampede stalwarts as well as the pro rodeo circuit.
On Wednesday, May 9, at 11:30 a.m. local time in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, 200 wristbands along with 200 white cowboy hats will be given out. In each city, one hat will contain a red envelope with a V.I.P. package for two to Stampede. The prize includes round-trip airfare, accommodations at Hotel Arts, two tickets to the sold-out-in-58-seconds Garth Brooks (really) concert at the Saddledome and more.
Toronto: Yonge and Dundas Square
Calgary: Stephen Avenue between 1 Street S.W. and 2 Street S.W.
Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery Public Square
Image courtesy of michaelthomson.