For 10 days every July, Calgary lets its hair down and goes rodeo gaga when the Calgary Stampede takes over Canada’s Cowtown. A national institution visited last year by royal
newlyweds Wills and Kate and annually by over a million people, the so-called “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” celebrates its centenary this year.

It could also be called the bravest show on earth. Cowboys climb onto the backs of three-quarters of a ton of angry bull or wild-eyed broncs (they don’t call them broncos) in tiny pens, then hang on for dear life as the gate is opened and the thrashing beasts launch themselves into the air in a series of frenzied bucks.

The fast and furious chuckwagon races recall when cowboys had to break camp quickly and race rivals to get the best location at the next site.

For sheer speed, nothing beats the steer wrestling and roping events. Blink and you’ve missed the action, as it is all over in just three or four seconds.

The Calgary Stampede is a giant party which takes over the city. Many malls and communities put on free breakfasts. The 193-acre Stampede Park also features a funfair, shops and food stalls, a nightly Grandstand show and plenty of live entertainment.

Downtown Calgary has parades, dances, entertainment, old-fashioned gunfights and even a hat stomp contest as well as wagon rides through city streets.

There are cowboys and cowgirls strutting their stuff everywhere in Calgary. The most eye-catching outfits are worn by “Buckle Bunnies”, young ladies who sport massive belt buckles, micro-skirts and little else. The Stampede Queen and Stampede Princesses have their own distinctive silver buckles.

The Calgary Stampede