There is no doubt that Spruce Meadows is an iconic part of Calgary. While it’s best-known for the incredible summer show jumping season it’s best-kept secret is what a special place it is for families of all ages the other 365 days of the year.
Which is exactly what founders, Ron and Marg Southern wanted. “They really wanted it to be a space for the community to enjoy and it is certainly become that,” said Caroline Grant, Media Coordinator and Administrator for Spruce Meadows.
Inspired by that and in honour of Canada’s 150 Spruce Meadows has ensured that there will be family friendly events on all season. This includes Movies in the Meadow which will take place Wednesday evenings from July 19th – 23rd of August and for the first time a corn maze and pumpkin patch that will open in the fall.
So how can you make the most of your day?
There are a few simple ways to get the most out of this low cost, family friendly venue. Deciding how long you want to stay in advance, whether you will pack snacks and drinks and what you really want to see will help you ensure that everyone has a great time.
What does it cost to get in?
For events rush seating in the east and west grandstand is only $5 for teens and adults. Children and seniors are free. If you want a guaranteed spot to see all of the action you can reserve a spot in the south-west grandstand for $35. Our favourite spot is the west grandstand’s grassy space where kids can get up and move around when the mood takes them. Just remember to pack sunscreen.
When is the best time to go?
Pretty much anytime that works for you. If you are heading out to one of the Summer Series show jumping events know that the horses are jumping at the seven different competition rings all day. However, if you want to see the elite jumpers the international ring starts later in the day and goes into the evening.
My kids have a short attention span; is there anything else to do?
Don’t worry! There is enough to keep even the most restless child amused. Situated throughout the grounds are face painting, pony rides, a playground, the ever charming Prairie Dogs competing to see who will be the top dog, Sam Steele’s Scouts and a variety of local musicians showcasing their skills.
How do I get there?
Parking is a hot commodity and traffic can really back up during tournaments. Plan ahead and take one of the Red Arrow Shuttle busses. They pick you up from the Somerset-Bridlewood C-Train station and run every 30 minutes. The full schedule can be found here: https://www.sprucemeadows.com/tournaments/getting_here.jsp
We can’t make it to an event, can we still go?
Sure, there are lots of things to do. The best part of Spruce Meadows is that it is open to the public all year round and, outside of tournaments and special events, it is free to wander the grounds. Our favourite non-event activities are having a picnic, going for a family walk to see the horses training, going fishing* or even trying to teach your little one to ride a bike in the open spaces. While in the winter we like to skate on the pond, get hot chocolate and tour the lights at night and visit the Christmas Market.
*Spruce Meadows has closed the pond to fishing this summer because of the outbreak of whirling disease. They will let the public know as soon as it reopens.
Nanica is a Calgary’s Child staff writer as well as a mother of two adorable, but fearless, turkeys (kids). A crazy cat lady, and wife to one super smart nerd, she is loving every experience this city has to offer.