The Calgary Stampeders may not be in this year’s Grey Cup but that doesn’t mean there won’t be reason to celebrate the big game at the end of the month.
As host city of the Canadian Football League championship game, Calgary will be still be primed to party starting with the biggest bash of them all: the 107th Grey Cup Festival.
A five-day celebration overflowing with events and activities, we couldn’t possibly mention them all so we’ve narrowed it down to our top five picks (pun totally intended) for fun things to do at this year’s Grey Cup Festival.
#5 Tim Horton’s Kick Off Party
If you plan on playing the long game this year, your best strategy will be to get things going at the Tim Horton’s Kick Off Party.
“The Tim Horton’s Kick Off Party is particularly exciting for us because what we wanted to do was to make sure that we crafted an event that was a proper welcome to Calgary,” said festival executive director Geordie Macleod.
This will be the shaker to start off all shakers with the arrival of the Grey Cup, surprise hosts, musical guests, entertainment and more.
#4 Grey Cup Rodeo
Paying homage to the first-ever unofficial festival in 1948 when Stamps fans arrived in Toronto in full western style, complete with a chuck wagon and a dozen horses, this year’s festival will feature a uniquely Calgary event: the first-ever Grey Cup Rodeo, which organizers promise will be different than any rodeo you’ve ever seen.
“Four events, nine competitors per event, each wearing the team colors of a CFL member club so you should have a rooting interest pretty quickly based on what cowboy is wearing what colour,” said Macleod.
#3 Nissan Street Festival
Tackling the Nissan Titan Street Festival and all it has to offer will be no small feat even for a super sized d-lineman.
Over 140,000 square feet will be filled with family friendly fun, including the every popular 169-foot Jiffy Lube slide, play a quick game of catch on the mini field, get your face painted, listen to live music, grab a bevvy at the beer gardens or stand in awe at the spectacle that is the Atco Stratosphere.
“It’s ultimately like a pop-up planetarium,” explained Macleod.
“So the whole thing is about four times bigger than what you would expect out of an Imax Theatre from the interior and the exterior. Like I say, it’s just going to kind of look like a giant snow globe.”
#2 Energy Avenue
Not all events are intended for the kids. Number two on our list is just for the adult folk.
The Energy Avenue Team Party Zone encapsulates the true spirit of sportsmanship and no one does it quite like the CFL.
Every single team in the league will have its own space to celebrate their squad and their city.
Macleod summed this one up pretty well by saying: “It’s going to be a great party. Like, it really is going to be a great party.”
#1 Grey Cup Festival
Our number one pick — because it encompasses just about everything, but mostly because it’s all happening in one place — is the Grey Cup Festival itself! No matter how old or young you are, whether you’re a football fan or not, there is truly something for everyone to do, to enjoy and to celebrate.
“We would like anyone who has any interest in experiencing the energy of Calgary to be down on Stampede Park to do that with us,” said Macleod.
And best of all, most of the activities and events are free!
A full list of events and activities can be found on the Grey Cup Festival website as well as information on the free LRT service that will be available throughout the festival.