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The top 10 things to do at the 2014 CNE

Posted by Derek Flack / August 14, 2014

CNE Toronto 2014The CNE is back in Toronto on August 15, announcing as it does, the slow fade of another summer. While it no longer enjoys the stature it did a century ago -- when it really was the biggest event of the summer by a good margin -- the Ex still draws over a million visitors each year. Many these days will come for the food, which has become more and more popular over the last half decade, but the classic rides and midway are still major draws, if only for the familiarity and nostalgia.

Over and above the year over year fixtures at the Ex, there's a host of new (or at least more recent) entertainment and activities to get up to. Here's a look at some of the best that this year's CNE has to offer in addition to the completely wild foods on offer this year.

Top Picks

Northern Comfort Saloon
New this year is a country-themed saloon to take advantage of this city's recent obsession with all things western. There will be lots of bourbon (sorry under 19ers, you're out of luck after 3:30pm), line dancing, and what's being called "comfort foods." Ribfest is on just around the corner, so if the eats aren't what you're after, you won't go hungry.

The Zip Line returns
Probably the most fun adult ride at the Ex is the zip line, which returns for a second year. At over 1,100ft in length and 125ft in height, it's a great way to soar above the midway and take in all of the action below. Just remember, it's 12 stories high, so it's not for the feint of heart.

Food Truck Frenzy
The wacky combinations of deep fried food tend to hog the spotlight at the CNE, but there's actually lots of less outlandish but more tasty food on offer. The food truck element is huge this year with almost 20 trucks in attendance, from new mobile kitchens like CORNehCOPIA and Randy's Roti to favourites like Fidel Gastro's and Food Dudes. Look for the food truck alley on Princes' Boulevard just inside the gates.

Pan Am Games Preview
The Pan Am Games arrive in a year, but it seems like the city has yet to get too excited about this major event. Perhaps that's understandable given how much work is left to do before it appears that we're ready to host the world, but a little boost couldn't hurt. At this year's Ex, an interactive exhibit devoted to the Games will offer a sneak peak of what's in store and allow participants to burn a few calories they've consumed in the food building.

Toronto mayoral candidates like you've never seen them
It wouldn't be the Ex if there wasn't some exhibit that's completely silly but somehow compelling just for that reason. Taking the prize this year will be the "Canstruction of Mayoral Candidates," which will assemble a likeness of the leading politicians running for mayor of Toronto out of 10,000 cans. Andy Warhol would be proud. And, just in case this sounds entirely wasteful, the cans used in the installation will be donated to the Salvation Army food drive upon completion of the CNE.

5 more things to check out this year

Music - The lineup drastically under represents female artists, but there's plenty of seen-his-better-days performers for those interested in a nostalgia kick.

The Airshow - This year's show will feature six WWI fighter planes.

Celebrity Chefs - This might stretch your definition of celebrity, but a number of Food Network Canada hosts will put on cooking demonstrations.

The Amazing Kreskin - Yup, Kreskin is performing this year. Have your mind blown.

Aerial Acrobatics - If you don't make it out to Cirque du Soleil's Kurios this year, you might get your fill of acrobatics at the Ricoh Centre where there are two daily shows.

The CNE runs from August 15 to September 1, 2014. Adult admission is $18. For information about parking and other visitor tips, head over the official website.



RobertB / August 14, 2014 at 04:13 pm
Yea for the zip line. I'm terrified of heights. Rode it last year with my daughter. We're Doing it again this year.
FUF / August 14, 2014 at 04:41 pm
#11: Avoid this at all costs.
BH / August 14, 2014 at 05:24 pm
I went to the CNE a lot in the late 70s and 80s as a kid but only twice in the last 25 years or so. Even though it might still have some interest for younger kids, as an adult I don't see the point of going these days.

Rides are scaled down to irrelevancy when they used to be fast and fun for all ages, food building is mostly overpriced instead of the old days when companies just loved the advertising, International building is more flea market with loads of tourist crap, many of the older buildings not even used anymore, Ontario Place is closed when it used to be a nice break away from the Ex and breath of fresh air (literally) along the lake.

And you have to pay more just to get in. I just don't see the point of the Ex now.
Water for Beer. / August 14, 2014 at 05:45 pm
It's the 'feint of heart' that intrigues me. Who edits this?
hhhhh / August 14, 2014 at 05:51 pm
Kids prefer Ipads over shoddily put together rides that could kill them in an instant.
Gdot / August 14, 2014 at 06:55 pm
I don't understand why the "Ex" is still around.
John Labatt replying to a comment from BH / August 14, 2014 at 07:01 pm
If you hardy ever go anymore how are you the expert. You are the expert from the 1970-80 not the expert for todays EX
Steven / August 14, 2014 at 07:32 pm
Kreskin? He's 79 years old?
Any idea how long his show will be? 30 minutes?
I'm running a new Whac-a-mole game this year / August 14, 2014 at 08:13 pm
The moles are Rob & Doug, so it's "Whac-a-Ford"!
BH replying to a comment from John Labatt / August 14, 2014 at 08:34 pm
I never said I was an expert--it's called a comparison.

I did go a couple years ago and found it small and unimpressive. Yes, it certainly is "different" now, but different doesn't mean it's just as good but in a different way.
Greg / August 14, 2014 at 11:48 pm
well I guess I won't be having a Red Bull and Vodka because the EX is on city property. SHYTE!!!!!
Bill / August 15, 2014 at 08:37 am
Cant wait to see Rob at the opening ceremony FORD NATION!!!
time for something else / August 15, 2014 at 10:15 am
Why do we allow this yearly Carnie-Con ?

I get that the 905ers love this tripe, and use it as an excuse to come into town. But holy hell what a wasted opportunity we have with that land.

Amazing! Its a barren waste land for 11.5 months of the year.

Fuck casinos and condos and the Honda Indy. There has got to be a better way to use all that space, other than a concrete glorified State Fair.
jo ingram / August 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm
used to have sports demonstrations of judo competitions at
the EX-some karate chop sui-wrestling with kids demonstration
did judo for over 45 years cris toule-frank hatashita-bill
dourety-now no more petting zoo for the young ones-and old
ones that are young at heart-At one time there was ham radio
in one of the buildings that was great showing how to get your
ticket and learn the code-another chop sui was taekwondo doing
board breaking-boring-at least judo was and still is an good
Olympic sport just close to college wrestling with different
rules-but its fun to do ground work no punching or kicking
or crazy board breaking
Ryan / August 15, 2014 at 03:37 pm
Irwin Mimico / August 16, 2014 at 07:23 am
I saw Mr. Ford at the CNE opening! He was soooo jiggly I was overcome!
Kate / August 17, 2014 at 07:41 pm
No fun at all, unsafe rides, bad food that makes you sick, and flea market junk in international building, nothing new in craft building, just boring clutter.
Kelly / August 18, 2014 at 01:33 pm
Also the Tartistry booth in the big expo centre! Delicious tarts :)
Irwin Mimico / August 19, 2014 at 11:35 pm
Rob Ford is a ManzMan! A JIGGLING DREAM!
nino / August 20, 2014 at 01:10 pm
discounted tickets using corporate codes here for $12
Adel / August 22, 2014 at 03:10 pm
Thanks nino! You are awesome!!
Theo / August 23, 2014 at 09:07 am
I think that it is important to remember that the exhibition used to mean something in the days before the internet. It was a way to shop the world and to see all the new innovations all at once. Now it is just a trade show and midway mostly, but it can be fun.
z replying to a comment from ninojolly / August 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm
Do you have to be an employee of the corporation to get the corporate discount? I mean, if i use it do i have to provide proof to CNE that i am an employee of that company.
ninojolly replying to a comment from z / August 27, 2014 at 01:45 pm
do not need to be corporate employee to use the corporate deals. it is intended to be used by frineds and family. you will not be asekd to prove ID at the gate or when purchasing online.

Ni / August 29, 2014 at 01:22 pm
But if i buy tickets from this link, will it be legit? Will i have any problems with getting in?
John / August 30, 2014 at 11:12 pm
What a bunch of grumps posting on this board! The Ex is a ton of fun, the airshow is great, and the atmosphere is loud and full of nostalgic energy! Go and enjoy it!
olga / July 6, 2015 at 06:12 am
As a Kid we used to get so excited to go to the"EX" now, c'mon it SUCKS!1!!! Too expensive, BORING, so much has been taken away, this is NOT the EX I grew up to know and enjoy! I'm 60 now and I have been going to the EX since I was 6!!!! it's not even worth coming down to the EX! So sad for so many of us!!!!!The Trade Centre, now that building is a BIG JOKE!!!!!
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