Shine your boots and start your preparatory juice cleanse, because Calgary Stampede is just one week away and it’s officially time to get hyped for the spectacle of entertainment happening over the 10 days known as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. We’ve shared some of our favourite local apparel stops who will get you suitably tricked out for the occasion, and last week we enlisted some our favourite local chefs and bartenders to tempt you with their Stampede-inspired bites and drinks. Coming up next week (spoiler), we’ve got our team’s don’t-miss-this Stampede guide, just ahead of opening night. Do we have you as excited as we are yet?

To really get your bronc bucking, so to speak, we touched base with a few of our go-to entertainment partners to hear about some of their favourite Stampede entertainment in years past, and the new ideas and strategies they’re excited about deploying this year. Whether you’re getting inspired (never too early to start planning for next year) or just getting excited, let’s look at some Stampede entertainment highlights and insights.

“Pics or it didn’t happen” is still very much a thing
Like it or not, many of the guests at any event are going to be as conscious of the ways in which they can share their experience on social media as they are of their actual present-tense, IRL enjoyment of said experience. If you want to make waves and get that word-of-mouth hype working for you, creating something that is highly shareable is key.

fuze entertainment is always looking for ways to capitalize on that camera everyone has in their pocket, and one perfect example of this was their Blowout Bar, a pop-up booth equipped with hair stylists who could turn you into Dolly, Willie, or Shania in the time it takes to sing Jolene. There are few things more Snap-able, more get-in-my-Stories, or more Facebook Live-friendly than that. The booth was low-tech and simple to pull off, with big shareability that had friends and friends of friends flocking to it for their chance to primp, then post.

Our friend Pat McGannon of PM Gigs told us that one of the things he’s most excited about incorporating is “bursts of entertainment” that pop up unexpectedly, happen quickly, then move on, allowing you to go back to your conversation or networking, or to move on as well. The unexpected nature of this type of entertainment naturally gets phones out – think of the popularity of flashmobs on social media a few years back. This is a similar idea, but inside an environment where people are really open to and ready to be entertained, and to share it.

Live music is always a good idea, but there are ways to mix it up
Pat is passionate about great music and is our go-to live music aficionado, so he was excited to point out  that live music is more popular than ever at Stampede – he estimates that at least 80% of PM Gigs’ Stampede bookings are for musical acts – and you won’t hear us complaining. Big name acts on large stages are always fun and there’s always a place for that, but it is definitely not the only way, or even necessarily the best way, to experience and incorporate live music.

Stampede is an incredible opportunity for our city to show the world, literally, what we have to offer, and that includes discovering the many talented local musicians who can fill a dance floor or make passing crowds stop to listen. Keep an eye out for lesser-known talent, and be ready to find a new favourite band. Pat is especially excited by the idea of roving musical performances, like playing to guests who are waiting in line for food.

Speaking of roving music, fuze shared an example where they actually delivered live music, complete with all of the necessary equipment, in the bed of a pick-up truck. The country duo performed right from the truck bed at Stampede breakfasts or picnics with almost zero set-up required – just park, plug-in, and play.

Embracing all-things-western doesn’t mean a lack of creativity or options
We’re all for getting into the Stampede spirit and embracing everything that comes along with that, but just because there’s a decidedly western aesthetic to the festival doesn’t mean that that you won’t experience anything new this year, or that you haven’t to feel stuck in a box when you’re planning something. Our friends over fuze entertainment have flexed their creative muscle to put a Stampede-spin on everything from aerialists to drag queens over the years, so if line dancing and bull riding don’t really do it for you, you can count on finding something unique that does.   

Our Stampede Guide is coming at you on opening day, Friday, July 6! We’ll use our backstage passes to make sure you know about all of the best new events, try all the best food, and generally make the most of Stampede. Sign-up for our e-newsletter at the bottom of the page to make sure you don’t miss it.