Many of the activities I share here at Smores and Sundresses are traditions carried on from when I was young, and the Canadian National Exhibition is no exception.
The Canadian National Exhibition began in 1879 as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, a Toronto community event that showcased the latest innovations in commercial products and technology. It was also the place for leading artists at the time to perform. While the Exhibition has changed over the years, it is still a much-loved tradition.
The CNE is one of the 10 largest fairs in North America, and it opens each year for 18 days, always closing on Labour Day Monday.
As a kid, of course, I was always about the rides. How soon could we visit the midway, already!? My parents weren’t much into rides, but my brothers and I would be able to spend the afternoon on some rides. We almost always stayed away from the games. The dudes running the rides were almost always creepy, but that didn’t stop me! My mom and I always enjoyed The Polar Express, and I loved the giant swings. My dad loves heights, so we always went on the big Ferris wheel.
One year, I went with my cousin, Teresa, and we took on the Mark One – a tame roller coaster. I’m not sure where I got the guts to go on the Doppel Looper (before they retired it), but I went once… loved it and was immediately back in line to go again!
Here are my top tips for enjoying a great day at the CNE:
- Pack a lunch. Just like at Canada’s Wonderland, food at the CNE can be expensive. To cut costs, we pack a family lunch the night before. We splurge on dinner there, but bringing a lunch saves us cash.
- Bring a water bottle. There are several water refill stations throughout the CNE, so bringing a reusable water bottle with you ensures that you won’t be spending upwards for $3 for a bottle.
- Take the GO. Yes, it’s pricey but so worth it. Not having to worry about traffic (which is crazy with rush-hour traffic), you also won’t have to worry about parking costs, plus you get dropped off right at the CNE entrance.
- Consider buying rain ponchos at Walmart or the dollar store for your trip, just in case. They charge a small fortune for these at the Ex, so if there is any chance of rain, buy them ahead of time and bring them with you.
- If the weather is crappy, there are plenty of buildings to hide in during inclement weather. There are so many shopping areas and indoor activities to check out, you won’t be bored. Definitely check out the website ahead of time to plan your trip.
- Check out the entertainers that are scheduled for the day you plan to attend. The CNE has at least two beer gardens, and the entertainment is usually pretty good. The Beach Bar is my personal favourite – with Adirondack chairs and a sandy area to kick off your shoes in. It’s the perfect place to chill at the end of the day while the kids go to the midway.
- Plan to walk. A lot. Plan your day, too. The CNE is huge, and if you plan it right, you can reduce foot fatigue by maximizing your steps with a plan.
Last, but not least, have fun. There is truly so much to see and do, there is really something to do for everyone. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as my family does!