As the Calgary Stampede parade returns in full after a two-year hiatus, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather downtown to witness the iconic kick-off to the Calgary Stampede.
The parade was cancelled in 2020 and was virtual in 2021 due to the pandemic, but returns to the streets of downtown Calgary on July 8 with more than 95 entries. There will be 25 floats, marching bands, horses and First Nations groups, while actor Kevin Costner leads as parade marshal.
The parade starts at 9 a.m. on 9th Avenue at 3rd Street S.E. and marches the route for about two hours.
“Everybody wants to talk about Kevin Costner. His involvement has really created a surge of interest in the parade this year,” said Keith Marlowe, vice-chair of the Calgary Stampede parade committee.
“We’re expecting probably our biggest parade by turnout since 2012 when Prince William and Katherine were here in Calgary.”
Costner is more recently known for his role in the television show, Yellowstone, but has directed and starred in numerous award-winning films for more than 30 years.
There are a few floats in particular that Marlowe said to keep an eye out for, including an entry by the local Ukrainian community called “Glory to Ukraine,” which is expected to be an important and visually stunning entry.
“We also have a new entry from the consulate of Mexico from here in Calgary that we’ve been working with the consulate quite closely on,” said Marlowe.
The Calgary Stampede parade has always been seen as the kick-off to the Stampede and the return of a full, in-person event represents a turning point in the last 2½ years, Marlowe said. It’ll be an opportunity for Calgarians and visitors to Calgary to get together for its return.
Roads close downtown for the parade at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. in East Village) for the 9 a.m. parade start, so it’s advised people take transit, bike or walk to get downtown for the event.
The parade prelude starts at 7:30 a.m. with more than 1,500 performers to warm up the crowd.
“The best piece of advice we can offer is to get there early and put your blanket down and save your spot,” said Marlowe.
The parade will be streamed on Global Calgary, Global News YouTube channel, Global Calgary’s Facebook Live and Amazon Prime. Local meteorologist David Spence will be a celebrity judge for the parade, selecting the entry he believes best exemplifies the spirit of the Calgary Stampede.
The Stampede parade is also celebrating John Scott as an honorary parade marshal. Scott has been an important member of the community and the heart of the local film industry for more than 50 years. John Scott Productions has worked on seven Oscar-winning films, and Scott has been awarded and honoured for his preservation of western heritage.
Admission to Stampede Park is free following the parade from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., so people can head right to Stampede after the parade ends.