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The Canadian National Exhibition

Nothing says the end of summer in Toronto like going to the Exhibition (AKA the CNE /the Ex). This right of passage signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall, kinda like a sweet goodbye to the sun and heat as the colder nights start to roll in.

The ExHere are some of my favourite things about the Ex, ways to enjoy it and things that you should check out!

The Ex

To start, I would recommend going on a weekday as it's significantly less crowded than on a weekend. As well, they have a deal where it's $8 after 5pm.. It used to be $5 after 5 but... inflation ya know? Another tip would be to buy your tickets online so that you don't have to wait in line. Most of being at the Ex is waiting inline for things... the rides, the tickets, the food, the washrooms....

The Food
Tiny Tom Donuts at The ExIt wouldn't be a carnival if it wasn't for the greasy, fatty, artery clogging food. Ice cream, corn on the cob, burgers, donuts, funnel cakes and deep-friend everything... Every year they have a new invention for you to try out... the cronut, deep fried butter, deep fried mars bar... You can either enter the food building or find a food stand outside... I would recommend outside as the food building gets so crowded and I was never a huge fan of the offerings... If I'm going to a carnival, then I'm not eating pasta.. I want carnival food. I always end off the night with some Tiny Tom donuts... deep fried right in front of you with your choice of which topping.. chocolate, powdered sugar, or my personal favourite apple and cinnamon. YUP, fall has arrived.

The Rides
Nothing like over expensive, short, long line ups to the rides with a side of nausea to complete your trip to the Ex. Is it worth it? I'd say pick one or two rides before hand that you want to go on because you have to buy tickets and they have deals depending on the number of tickets that you want to get. The worst thing is when you have one or two tickets left but the ride that you want to go on is four tickets... Plan ahead and make sure that you double check how long the wait is for the rides and also that you fit the height restrictions.

The Shopping
There are so many shopping options, from independent and locally made items in the arts, crafts and hobbies exhibit, to my personal favourite, the international exhibit where you can shop tons of different products from around the world. Jewelery, decor, clothes.. you name it, you can find it there. If you're looking for back to school outfits but are on a budget (or even if you're not!) there's also a warehouse outlet section where companies such as Bench, Bluenotes and Revlon have warehouses within the building and prices are DIRT cheap. It's totally worth it to check it out but buyer beware... the place gets messy fast so I would recommend getting their early. But buyer beware part 2... if you go there early you'll have to lug around your clothes everywhere that day if you intend to stay at the Ex longer. There are no change rooms that you can use and you do need to do a lot of digging around as there are a lot of clothing pieces that are damaged or ripped.

The Shows
I love going to the different shows because they're free! After spending so much money you're able to pick a venue and watch the dog show, parkour show or the air show (full disclosure, I really dislike the air show... I don't think it's that interesting and it never fails to give me a headache... every. single. year.)

They also have a mardi gras parade (with beads!) that passes through the crowd twice a day towards the end of the festival (no boobs please, keep it PG). It was something that I used to always look forward to seeing with my mom and sister.

The cute little baby lambs!!!
They used to have a petting zoo which was my favourite thing... I would beeline there every year and yes I'm aware that it was in kiddie part of the carnival. They still have an indoor animal section with horses, pigs etc etc called The Farm but it's not as good because you don't get to pet the animals.... But alas, cute animals are there.

Before you go to the Ex I would recommend that you grab a look at what there is being offered so that you have a rough idea of what you want to do during your day there because it's so easy to have it slip through your fingers. To be quite honest, be prepared to spend money. The prices of everything are quite high but as it's once a year I feel as if it's justifiable (just my two cents!) I've gone before and didn't spend any money and I found that it just meant that I walked around a lot.... in the sun, sweating, in the crowds.

With this post I've pretty much summed up all of my summer content... my fall ones will be rolling in shortly... stay tuned for my posts about things that I wish I knew in University and how to transition from summer to fall.

What are some of your favourite things about the Ex? Let me know in the comments below!


2 comments on "The Canadian National Exhibition"
  1. I've actually never been to the Ex but I agree that it can be quite expensive! It looks like fun and I've always wanted to try the food! I won a pair of tickets and all day ride passes from indie 88 so I'm excited to finally go! xx

    Sending light & love your way,
    My Lovelier Days

    1. I hope that you enjoyed yourself! I can see why people don't like going (so many people!) but if you prepare yourself then it really is a nice way to finish off the summer :)