cne 2022

People in Toronto think the CNE feels busier than ever this year and they may be right

The CNE is finally back this summer after a painful two-year hiatus, and anyone who has hit up the beloved annual event in recent days will be able to tell you that it seems as bustling as ever, or even moreso — and based on the numbers, they're right.

Lockdown meant that the Exhibition, an end-of-season pastime for millions, was put on hold for only the second time in its over 140-year history (the first time being due to WWII), and so understandably, people have been eager to flock back to the Princes' Gates to get their fill of rides, games, shopping and, of course, famously wacky novelty food.

Amid all of the fun and excitement of being back at the Ex, attendees have been reporting some extra long lineups this year, at times over two hours for attractions like the Sky Ride and more than 45 minutes for an obligatory serving of Tiny Tom's donuts, by online accounts.

Indeed, events like the CNE are feeling completely packed in 2022, with organizers revealing that thus far, attendance is up 10 per cent from the same time in 2019.

And, the celebrated fair is anticipated to surpass 2019 numbers by the time it concludes on Labour Day, and reach, if not also beat, its record of 1.6 million guests, which was set in 2015.

"Although the final official tally will take a few more weeks after the CNE closes on September 5 to count total sales, organizers are confident that total attendance is trending to exceed 1.5 million," reads a release issued on Friday.

"Regardless of the final attendance number, 2022 has been a banner year and significant milestone for the CNE in so many ways. We have persevered through two years of closures... It's an incredible comeback story."

The CNE team's update also included personal accounts from vendors who cite things being absolutely packed from opening to closing, with one even calling it "the biggest year we've ever had at the CNE, or any other fair," which tracks with anecdotes all over social media from customers.

But while some are fans of the energy and glad to see public places teeming with people once more...

...others have avoided the Ex grounds completely due to the crowds and incessant lines.

If you haven't made it out to the CNE yet, you have until 9 p.m. on Monday to live it up (important: entry gates close at 5 p.m.), and you should expect it to be busy.

The 2022 Air Show will also be taking place Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12 noon to 3 p.m.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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