CNE Toronto

The top 10 things to do at the 2015 CNE in Toronto

The CNE is set to return to Toronto for another year. Expect to fid all sorts of tacky midway goodness when it gets started on August 21st, from classic fair rides to foods that may or may not instantly turn you diabetic (I'm looking at you, cocoa fried chicken), this is a Toronto summer tradition that should never be missed.

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for the the top things to do at the 2015 CNE.

Get your drink on at the Craft Beer Fest
Missed the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival? No problem. The Ex is bringing in all your favourite beverages from 11 top craft brewers. Expect to sip on everything from Beaus All Natural to Sawdust City. Word to the wise: after downing a pint or two, avoid the midway rides.

Take advantage of the rides
The Ex may not tempt death the same way Canada's Wonderland does with its sky high rides, but there's no shortage of fair favourites to keep you busy. Whether you're a thrill seeker who likes to test gravity with upside down midway rides or just want to kick back on the gondolas, there's something for everyone.

Check out some live music
In true festival fashion, the CNE is hosting an impressive roster of live music. There's three stages as well as various spots around the grounds where musicians will take to the stage. Cody Simpson, Tokyo Police Club, MKTO, and tons more are slated to perform.

cne food

Sample some new outrageous festival fare
Last year's menu will be difficult to beat, as the CNE spent the better part of August serving up everything from cocoa infused fried chicken to s'more bao. Though we have yet to see what's in store for this year, we can only expect things to get weirder and more wonderful.

Feast on food truck eats
The Food Truck Frenzy is bringing more than 20 food trucks to the CNE from August 28th to 30th. You'll find all your favourite local gourmet favourites, like Fidel Gastro, Food Dudes, and Hogtown Smoke, and more.

Try your luck at the CNE Casino
Our fair city doesn't have much by way of gambling, so it's always a treat when The Ex rolls into town and brings its coveted casino. Expect to find the building filled more than a few optimistic betters playing everything from multi-action blackjack to roulette. Hold on to your wallet and may the odds be ever in your favour.

Hit up the Beach Bar for a drink
Get a little R&R at the beach without even leaving the Exhibition Ground. Once you've had your fill of fair foods and midway rides, head to the tiki bar and indulge in a Muskoka beer or glass of sangria. There will be plenty of deck chairs, so you can sit back and enjoy the sun.

Get messy at Rib Fest
Toronto is no stranger to a good Ribfest, and the CNE offers one of the best (and longest) in the city. Expect to find grill masters serving up barbecue classics to hungry fair-goers from August 21st to September 7th. You may want to bring an extra change of clothes if you don't want to walk around the grounds smothered in sauce.

cne air show

Watch the annual Air Show
However noisy, the Air Show is one of the CNE's most beloved attractions. Featuring a host of planes (vintage and otherwise) including the Breitling Jet Team from France, this event will impress any aviation enthusiast. Even if you aren't crazy about planes, you have to admit they look pretty damn cool.

Embrace your inner Brad Paisley at the Country Saloon
The Northern Comfort Saloon is back for another year, giving cowboy hat enthusiasts some new stomping grounds for 18 days. Everyone from James Barker to Kelly Prescott will be taking the stage to perform. There's also a mechanical bull and plenty of line dancing to take part in.

Check it out at night
During the day the CNE can be hot and sweaty. That is precisely why you need to go when the sun is setting. The concerts get better, the views from the ferris wheel become more picturesque, and, if you're particularly lucky, the lines will be shorter.

What did I miss? Add more suggestions to the comments. Photo by Greg's Southern Ontario in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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