Dates: starts the first Friday after Canada Day (1 July), for two weeks
Level of participation: 3 - take your own rides on the midway and watch the real cowboys ride the beef
More mild west than wild west, the Albertan city known colloquially as ‘Cowtown’ dons its spurs for the self-proclaimed ‘greatest outdoor show on earth’. Bringing together an invitation-only list of the world’s best cowboys, the 10-day party is headlined by one of the richest rodeos on earth, offering more than C$1.6 million in prize money. Evenings at Stampede Park belong to the uniquely Albertan event of chuckwagon racing, the ‘half-mile of hell’ that sees four chuckwagons and outriders hurtle around a racing track at around 60km/h - think Ben Hur meets Ascot.
Outside the main arena, the Stampede goes from mares to fairs, with showground rides, deep-fried everything and the Indian Village, enclosed by teepees, that offers a glimpse into First Nation traditions.
Essentials: the Stampede is a sanctioned game of dress-up and nobody steps out their door during the event without a cowboy hat, whether it be silly or serious. The Stampede’s catchcry is an elongated ‘Yahoooo’ - learn it because you’ll hear it aplenty.
Local attractions: venture out of town to check out prehistory in Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park, the largest repository of dinosaur fossils on earth. For an eagle-eye look at Stampede Park, head to the top of 191m-high Calgary Tower.
More info: www.calgarystampede.com
See other top festivals in July here.