No summer in Toronto is complete without paying the Canadian National Exhibition, universally known as the CNE and The Ex, a visit.
From August 18 to September 4 (Labour Day Monday), the annual jamboree will transform 192 acres of Toronto’s Exhibition Place into a colourful midway, complete with pavilions, rides and games, live entertainment, and plenty of outrageous eats.
Whether you’re going with your friends, with a special someone or taking your kids for the day, the CNE is an absolute must.
Here’s what we’re looking forward to this year at the CNE!
The Ex is known for its delicious, artery-clogging dishes… bacon wrapped grilled cheese sandwiches, anyone? The Food Building features a mouthwatering experience and will host various local restaurants serving up one-of-a-kind dishes from around the globe. This year CNE-goers can check out a variety of different foodie events, including Ribfest, a fabulous feast featuring a multitude of rib masters competing to win “best rib recipe.”
There’s also the Food Truck Frenzy, featuring 25 local food trucks serving up a wide variety of insta-worthy dishes. This year’s offerings include a mouth-watering collaboration from @ogchimneys and @gloryholedoughnuts. Of course, there’s always the classic carnival eats like cotton candy, candy apples, Tiny Tom Donuts and corn dogs.
The CNE just wouldn’t be the same without its lineup of classic carnival rides. What we love about the EX is that there are rides for all ages. The kiddies (or those looking to keep things chill) can enjoy the classics like Bumper Cars, the Sky Ride, the Swings or everyone’s childhood favourite, the Merry Go Round. If you’re up for more of a thrill, you can check out the Mach 3, The Blitzer or the Polar Express.
The East Coast Kitchen Party
Calling all seafood enthusiasts! For the first time ever, the CNE will be hosting its East Coast Kitchen Party. On August 19 and 20, guests can indulge in Maritime cuisine from local food trucks and craft beer breweries, oyster shucking, and plenty of toe tapping East Coast music.
No visit to the CNE is complete without catching an incredible performance by the President’s Choice SuperDogs. This summer, visitors are invited to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday at the CNE with their all-Canadian themed SuperDog production of CanaDogs.
Ahh, the games…where you’ll always find an overzealous boyfriend attempting to win his girlfriend a life-sized stuffed animal. At the CNE, you’ll discover all the classic carnival games, from Whack-a-Mole to Blockbuster, some of them even give away some pretty big prizes like pocket bikes… but you might end up paying a small fortune to win one.
The Gaming Garage
Another CNE newbie is the Gaming Garage, a place to watch and compete against other players of all skill levels for a chance to wish cash prizes. There will also be video game developers and exhibitors, a tabletop gaming library where you and your friends can play your favourite board games, and a Chess Grandmaster Challenge, where you can play against one of chess’ greatest players.
The Unity Pole
In celebration of Canada’s indigenous heritage, the CNE has commissioned Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang to create a colourful, 25-foot Unity Pole that incorporates indigenous universal symbols carved into a majestic white cedar tree from the Peterborough area.
Regardless of when you visit, there will always be some incredible live entertainment to check out at the Midway Stage or the Bandshell. This summer you can catch the Sam Roberts Band, Kiefer Sutherland, The Sheepdogs, Dear Rouge, A Tribe Called Red, and Canadian country star Aaron Pritchett to name a few.
The Celebrity Chefs
Feeling inspired by all the incredible food you’ve tried at the CNE? Get up close and personal and learn from the best in the biz. There will be a different celebrity chef on site each day, so mark your calendars because Jamie Kennedy, Michael Smith, Vikram Vij, Ivana Raca and Yvonne Tremblay will all be stopping by.
The Air Show
The 68th annual Canadian Air Show will be soaring over the CNE grounds as part of its grand finale over the Labour Day weekend. The Air Show will feature thrilling performances from the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, and much more.
— CNE (@LetsGoToTheEX) July 31, 2017
If you’re looking for the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram, we recommend checking out the CNE’s new sign commemorating Canada 150. The Insta-worthy hotspot will feature an 8-ft tall sign with a Canadian maple leaf illuminated on the west end of the Exhibition grounds near the Princess Margaret Fountain this year.
The Aerial Acrobatics and Ice-Skating Show
The CNE will also be featuring its spectacular new performance Oh Canada to help celebrate Canada 150. High profile Canadian soloists will be featured alongside Canadian figure skating legend Elvis Stojko.
When: The Ex will be open from 10 am to midnight from August 18 to September 3 and from 10 am to 9 pm on Labour Day.
Where: 210 Princes’ Blvd, Toronto