Photo Credit: LitratoImages

Steeped into the heart and soul of Calgary is the proud country western history and culture of this Albertan city. Every year to honor the tradition, the city erupts to celebrate their heritage. Dubbed “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” the 10-day Calgary Stampede is perhaps the world’s greatest rodeo and western festival.

See real cowboys, bulls and broncos and feel the horsepower at the GMC Rangeland Derby, the famed chuckwagon race; see the famous evening Grandstand Show, or take in a free concert on the Coca-Cola stage.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Hesson

A must-see is the rodeo, where some of the best riders from around the globe come to compete in the invitation-only tournaments. Showdown Sunday is especially exciting. Billed the rodeo’s “Richest Afternoon,” $1 million in prizes are awarded. Of course, no cowboy experience is complete without animals and agriculture and a parade — both of which are favorites for the kids. And, surely, no Canadian experience is complete without some serious ice skating, so hit the highly popular Acrobatic Ice Show this year too.

Around the quaint but bustling city of Calgary during this time, western charm can be found everywhere. Businesses decorate their storefronts, as country music, entertainment and hospitality is found at the Calgary International Airport by way of the proverbial “welcome wagon” of volunteers full of daily event information. Once in town, shop for authentic western garb at the 17th Avenue SW district, Kensington or Inglewood areas. After dressing the part, take in a “Cowboy Tour” to hear stampede-related stories, or if you are brave enough, familiarize yourself with the city legends on a ghost tour to learn more about Calgary’s wild west history. Most fanciful of all is the free daily pancake breakfasts.