With the Centennial officially kicking off tomorrow, all signs point to this being an epic Calgary Stampede.

Loyal Stampede Blog readers know that in previous years, I’ve tried to point out cool or different things to check out on Park.  This year, with so many interesting things going on, it’d take forever to give them all justice, so I figured what I’d do instead is share five tips and tricks I’ve picked up over my six years (and counting!) as a Stampede Volunteer that help make the time I spend on Park even more pleasurable. 

So here we go!

  1. Plan ahead.  There is so much to see and do on Park (and a lot of it is free with admission!), that in my experience, it takes multiple trips just to see it all.  Intelligence is your friend and knowing what to do in advance can ensure you make the most of your time during your stay.  Luckily, there’s a nifty online planner that has everything you need to know about what’s happening on Park.  There are even mobile versions for iOS, Android and Blackberry so you’ll always have that info on hand.
  2. Bring a water bottle.  It can get pretty hot on Park.  It’s important to stay hydrated, and a water bottle can help with that.
  3. Bring a snack.  If you’re planning to spend long hours on Park, you’re going to get hungry.  When the hunger pangs hit and your favourite food vendor is on the other end of the Park, you may not last the trip it’ll take to get there.  So bring a candy bar, a sandwich or something to snack on.  If you have food sensitivities, this is doubly important.  While it’s true that there’s a lot more choice this year when it comes to gluten-free, low sugar and other health conscious foods, if you want to be completely safe, bring your own.  In fact, did you know that you can bring your own food to all the event venues on Park?  It’s a great way to save some money while enjoying some world class entertainment.
  4. Bring some sunscreen. And an umbrella.  Weather is wacky here in Calgary so you need to be prepared for all extremes.  It could be completely sunny one moment, then raining cats and Superdogs the next.  Be prepared.  No one likes being stuck indoors forced to hide from the elements.
  5. Relax.  Sometimes the lineups, the hustle and bustle of so many people milling around, or other factors can drain away some of the enjoyment to be had on Park.  So make sure you schedule time in your day to rest.  If you like the outdoors, there’s plenty of green space on Park.  My favourite is picnicking in the Indian Village.  There’s lots of grass, plenty of space, it’s near the river and there’s usually something entertaining going on during the day.  If air conditioning is more your thing, check out the Western Oasis in the BMO Centre.  Both of these places are great to enjoy that snack and water bottle you brought earlier too.

So there’s my five and I hope you’ll find them helpful.  I’m sure some of my fellow Stampede Bloggers also have some tips and tricks of their own on how they get the most enjoyment out of their trip to the Stampede, and perhaps you’ll read about them here.

But I’m curious:  What advice have you picked up over the years?  Feel free to share them in the comments.  I’d love to hear them!