How to Stampede on a budget: wallet-friendly activities for students

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We know Stampede can be a stressful time, especially as a student. For some, it’s the stress of hiding your hangover from your boss, but for most it’s finding the extra cash to participate in Calgary’s biggest event. Stampede CAN be very expensive, especially with every business adding a premium to their “country themed” products and services. Luckily we’ve compiled a list of free or discounted things for cash-strapped cowpokes to partake in the fun (sorry #barstars, Stampede partying doesn’t come cheap and thus is not included on this list).



Even though admission rates seem to increase every year ($18 bucks for general admission?!), Stampede does provide several Value Days with reduced, or free, entry.

1) Sneak-a-peak: July 6th from 5 pm to 1 am | $9 entry or $32 for the Ignite Package, which includes admission and a ride-all-night wristband
2) Parade Day: July 7th from 11 am to 1:30 pm | Free entry until 1:30 pm
3) Cenovus Family Day (all ages): July 9th from 8 am to 12 pm | Free entry until noon and free breakfast for the first 25,000 attendees
4) Canada 150 Day: July 11th | $1.50 entry until 1:50 pm

More info here.


Located in Olympic Plaza and along Stephen Avenue, Rope Square hosts a variety of activities, all for free! You may even walk away with a prize if you’re chosen to participate in the Flapjack Flip or Hat Stomp Competition. Here’s what’s happening this year:

1) Free pancake breakfast every day… and bacon! Can’t forget the bacon.
2) Free event and performances. Full calendar and map here.
3) Square dancing, no experience necessary! Every day from 10 am to 12 pm.
4) First Nations parade every day from 11:30 am to 12 pm.
5) Parade of Old Time Rigs Ride: you’ll have to be up early for this one! A limited number of free tickets are distributed at 8:30 am every day on a first-come, first-served basis. Ticket holders are corralled to the departure point at 9:30 am and the tour leaves at 10 am. Stay on the ride all the way to Stampede Park and skip the steep parking fees!

Full details of events available hereThere are no Rope Square activities on Sunday, July 9th or 16th. 


Need we say more?

Check out the complete guide to free breakfast for 10 days here.


Missed the value days and still keen on heading down to the grounds? Here’s another few ways to save a couple bucks!

1) Stampede bucks at Costco: $50 of Stampede bucks for $39.99 redeemable ANYWHERE in the park. Rides, admission, food, games, retail, even parking accepts Stampede bucks. Only available for purchase at Costco until July 7th (while supplies last)!
2) Ride & Play Cards: $37.85 for a ride-all-day wristband, available for purchase at Sobeys and Safeway locations until July 7th.
3) Coca-Cola 2 for $27: two general admission tickets and two 500 ml Coca-Cola products for $27! Available at Mac’s convenience stores until July 16th (while supplies last).


The best spots to enjoy the nightly fireworks, without the $18 admission fee:

1) Scotman’s Hill (map)
2) Hillcrest Avenue (map)
3) Highfield Road (map)
4) Tom Campbell Hill (map)


Hoping to stay as far away from Stampede as possible? There are free activities happening in Calgary away from the Stampede festivities (though we make no promises that these events will be country music- and/or cowboy hat-free).

1) Shakespeare’s As You Like It at Prince’s Island Park: enjoy the theatre and the outdoors simultaneously with this by-donation event! Happening daily at 7 pm, with an additional Sunday performance at 2 pm.
2) Calgary Night Market at Southcentre Mall: food trucks and stalls, live entertainment and KARAOKE. You’re welcome. Catch the market on July 7th and 8th in the parking lot of Southcentre Mall from 5 to 11 pm. Entry is free.


Have fun and stay safe this Stampede! Don’t drink and drive.