National Western Stock Show: A Classic Denver Rodeo

Denver’s National Western Stock Show is one of the world’s premier Western spectacles. Put on your cowboy boots, grab your chaps and see it for yourself each January at the National Western Complex, just north of downtown.

 

Mark your calendars for next year’s Denver rodeo and livestock show on January 11–26, 2025, and take a look at the fun that’s in store.

kids peek at buffalo at the national western stock show
National Western Stock Show visitors peer at bison
Nine riders on horseback dressed in red-white-and-blue outfits holding waving American flags race through the dirt of the stadium at the National Western Complex in Denver. This group of horse riders is the Westernaires, performing at National Western Stock Show.
The Westernaires, a group of Colorado rodeo performers
A few people with numbers pinned to the backs of their shirts stand with their white, brown, gray and spotted miniature horses for a miniature horse competition at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
Miniature-horse competition at the National Western Stock Show
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National Western Stock Show History

Since the first Denver stock show in 1906, thousands of visitors from across the country have traveled to see more than 15,000 animals, rodeo performances, bull-riding competitions, dancing-horse shows and barrel racing feats. Auctions and booths selling everything from cowboy boots and cookware to golf vacations have also been staples of this event.

Stock Show Events & Schedule

There’s something for everyone at the stock show. Get eye to eye with steer weighing more than your car, watch sheep dogs herd their fluffy friends and be dazzled by the artistry of trick roping, along with other choreographed stunts. After delighting in these performances, you can devour funnel cake, check out the art show or take the little ones to see bison and other large prairie animals dozing off or munching grass in their pens.

See the full National Western Stock Show schedule

National Western Stock Show Parade

The livestock parade in Denver kicks off two days before the main stock-show event. The streets of downtown flood with music from live bands, Old West wagons and sleighs, marching steers, ponies and rams, and cowfolk in classic country attire (picture cowboy hats, boots, kerchiefs and coils of rope) perched on prancing horses. It’s a curious sight amid the city’s skyscrapers and coffee shops, and a sure sign the stock-show craze is in full motion.

Rodeos

Rodeos are held each day of this two-week-long event, with local and pro riders, ropers and a slew of animals strutting their best stuff. The PBR rodeo (Professional Bull Riders) will have you on the edge of your seat rooting for one of these featured riders as they fight to stay on intensely bucking bulls. At the PRCA rodeos (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association), you’ll find trained experts riding rambunctious broncos bareback and fast-paced barrel racing, a fan-favorite race of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.

Stick around for other professional shows supporting altruistic causes; past rodeos include the Pink (raising awareness for breast cancer), Hunger Action (dedicated to ending hunger in Colorado) and Military Appreciation.

The Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza, a spectacle of roping artistry, Mexican-style bull riding, mariachi music and bareback-riding showmanship, is a must-see event. Don’t miss the bull fighting, a Portuguese-style competition expertly choreographed by Jerry Diaz, a fourth-generation charro (traditional Mexican cowboy).

Make sure you catch the MLK, Jr. African American Heritage Rodeo, too — top cowfolk compete in barrel racing, livestock wrestling and riding, along with other contests to celebrate America’s Black-cowboy history. This act also honors Bill Pickett, an African American cowboy and legend from the 19th century.

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Coors Western Art Exhibit

It’s not all horseshoes and 10-gallon hats at this Denver stock show. The Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale features illustrations, photography and sculptures from local, national and international artists. Check out oil and acrylic paintings of Colorado’s high-country rivers and mesas, shaggy-haired cows and leaping horses, plus tranquil, dusty-blue skies and scenes honoring Native American history and culture.

Horse & Livestock Shows

Ever see a cow under a hair dryer? Walk among the barns to see the region’s top livestock getting prepped and primped for competition and sale, including horses, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, llamas, alpacas, bison, yak, poultry and rabbits. After their grooming, you can watch them up close and personal as they prance around the arena.

Mutton Bustin’

This lively event will have you on your feet cheering as kiddos ages 5 to 7 compete to stay on the backs of sheep as they dash across the arena. See this locally loved affair sprinkled among other performances in rodeos or get one uninterrupted hour of the rip-roarin’ event in the stadium arena. Want to register your young cowpoke in this event when the time comes around? Take a look at the rules and regulations.

This is just one of many family-oriented activities at the event. Explore more kid-friendly activities at this Denver stock show

Stock Show Tickets

Get your National Western Stock Show tickets online or in person at the box office. A grounds admission ticket will grant you access to the Coors Western Art Exhibit, stock-dog competitions, the Stadium Arena Mutton Bustin’ and food vendors. Additional fees may apply for tickets to any professional rodeos, championships and other major events.

Get National Western Stock Show tickets

Hotels Near the National Western Complex

The National Western Complex (4655 Humboldt St., Denver) is conveniently close to a multitude of hotels, restaurants and other downtown staples and entertainment. Staying at the following family-friendly hotels will ensure you’re within proximity to all the action of Denver as well as the National Western Stock Show.

  • Catbird Hotel: This eclectic hotel — think mismatched art, rooftop gnomes and hot tubs overlooking the city — is just a Vespa-ride away from the complex. And you can rent said Vespas (and bikes) direct form the hotel.
  • The Source Hotel: This classic stay sits on a lively corner in the RiNo Arts District and boasts an expansive food hall as well as a pool with panoramic views.
  • Vīb Hotel by Best Western Denver RiNo: Just a short drive from the National Western Complex, this hotel located by city parks and Denver entertainment is sleek and comfortable with a rooftop bar.

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