It’s that time of year.
The event that so bittersweetly marks the end of summer for millions of Torontonians is just around the corner. And this year’s Canadian National Exhibition has just as much fun, food and entertainment packed into its 18-day run as ever. With concerts ranging from Monster Truck to Rick Springfield and a variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment, organizers are sticking with their unofficial motto of “something for everyone”.
I spoke with General Manager Virginia Ludy this week for more details on what this year’s CNE has to offer and how she’d recommend visitors go about planning their time at the fair. Here are her top tips.
1. Take Advantage of all the FREE Entertainment!
We have a full roster of entertainment for our visitors. At our bandshell this year we have concerts for younger folks, like Cody Simpson, Tokyo Police Club, Dallas Smith, Brett Kissel…and then for the older crowd (not old, but older, like myself!) we have Rick Springfield, Chubby Checker, America and Foghat. Those are just to name a few.
And then of course we’ve got our bars! We have a country bar called the Northern Comfort Saloon, which has a lineup of country performers and the Midway Bar which has a lot of classic rock tribute bands.
There there’s our ice skating show, returning this year. That will take place every day in the Ricoh Coliseum. We have a new show called Parkour, which feature these young folks who do these absolutely crazy acrobatics. And it’s all self-propelled. They do things off of walls and buildings…it’s quite phenomenal, the things they do.
A show that we found in New York was a pogo show – it’s called Extreme Pogo. These fellows have pogo sticks – similar to the ones that you and I may have jumped on when we were kids – but they do tricks on them like you wouldn’t believe. They jump over cars, they jump over each other, they do flips and spins and all sorts of things. So that’s an exciting show and that will be occurring every day here at the CNE.
Also, our celebrity cooking stage is back and we’ve got a full roster of celebrity chefs who will be here – a different chef every day for the full 18 days. That particular show is incredibly popular. We’ve got a Chinese acrobatics show. And then of course old favourites like the dog show. It’s back and has got a Hollywood theme this year – it’s called HollyWoof. And of course all of these shows are free with your admission.
2. Remember to check out the Website
The CNE website is just packed full of information about what is happening on these grounds over the 18 days of the fair. The schedule page will let you know when certain events are happening and what performances are on on the day of your planned arrival. You can also look at what shopping options there are if you want to scope out what’s on offer in the shopping pavilions.
3. Take Transit
I would encourage people to use public transit to come down to the fair. Both GO Transit and the TTC provide phenomenal service to our site. If you’re bringing a family down, the GO Train is a ride experience in itself; the kids all seem to love it.
4. Buy your Tickets in Advance
I’d also encourage folks to look at our advance sales, which are on right now. You can go online and buy your ticket at a discounted rate; that sale ends at midnight of the day prior to the fair; so midnight on August 20. So there are a lot of ways to attend and save money before you even get here.
5. Grab a CNE Guidebook this Weekend
This weekend, coming out in the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail, is our CNE Guidebook. We’re putting millions of these out so look for them in your local newspaper. That booklet is about 20 pages of packed information.
6. Check out all the NEW Eats!
And then, of course, there’s all the wonderful new fair food that we have coming, and we continue to add to that list. This year we have the S&M Burger – which is “Spaghetti and Meatball Burger”, I should clarify! There will be deep fried chicken waffle on a stick, a poutine grilled cheese sandwich, we have the world’s longest corndog, a Sumo burger, deep fried cheesecake…and then this year is the 75th anniversary of our iconic ice cream waffle sandwich. People come here year after year after year to get those two handmade waffles with the large slice of ice cream nestled in between. I always have to have at least one of those during my time here at the fair!
The CNE runs from August 21 to September 7.