CNE Toronto 2014

The top 10 things to do at the 2014 CNE

The 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.

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