There is only one week left to enjoy this year’s Canadian National Exhibition (commonly known as The Ex)! In it’s 137th year, there are a ton of things to do at the Ex, all the way up to Labour Day on Monday September 7th!  With crazy food concoctions (deep fried oreos and donut burgers anyone?), great bands and side shows, and incredible outlet deals, its kind of difficult to not be entertained throughout the fair.  I recently had a chance to go to the Ex, and found a whole bunch of ways to have fun, regardless of whether you’re a family of five or just a couple friends, hanging out. So, here are 9 top events to keep you entertained!

  1. Family Fun with Games and Rides

    The CNE has some truly exciting rides, that are fairly busy all day along, but will leave the whole family smiling. And if you happen to have tired feet throughout the day, the Sky Ride will take you from the Princess Gates, all the way over to the BMO field!

    CNE - The Ex Amusement Rides
    The Niagara Falls ride may give you a much needed splash in hot Toronto summer weather.
    CNE - The Ex Amusement Ride "Niagara Falls"

  2. The CNE Air Show

    The Air Show happens on the last three days of the Ex every year. If you’re a local, you know its time to go to the CNE when you hear these amazing planes fly by as they make their way to the Ex grounds. Here’s a list of what will be showcased this year, on Sept 5, 6 and 7!
    The 2015 display will feature:

      • the Breitling Jet Team from France
      • a CF-18 Hornet Demo
      • the F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper)
      • U.S.A.F. Heritage Flight
      • Mike Wiskus & the Lucas Oil Pitts Special
      • John Klatt & the Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco
      • the Spitfire which commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain
      • the beloved CF Snowbirds


  3. Order Food Like You’re VIP

    One thing about events like the CNE is that there are a ton of line ups; its inevitable with how many folks are around, having fun. Thanks to Grabb Mobile though, you can take one line up out of the equation. Download “The Food Building App” (Android / iOS) that has a list of some great places to eat in the Food Building, and order your meal without having to get in line. Using this app for food is also great if you happen to find yourself low on cash in your wallet, since you pay by either credit card or PayPal. I am SO happy they introduced PayPal for a payment option, woot!

    CNE The Food Building App from Grabb Mobile

    The Food Building App actually has some great general info that you may need to look at while planning your trip. Its nice that you don’t actually need to jump from app to app to browser, as you could potentially have all the info you need right in this one app.
    CNE The Food Building App Helpful General Info

    The Food Building App doesn’t work with every food kiosk unfortunately, but that didn’t stop them from giving you a very helpful list of what restaurants are available, so that the whole family can decide on what they want without circling the Food Building three times (which we’ve been known to do, especially since there’s just so many yummy/scary options to choose from.) Have you tried the donut burger?? I’m not sure I could…
    CNE The Food Building App Food Options

    There are 12 restaurants to choose from this year (Keeping my *fingers crossed* that this app becomes popular enough for them to include more choices next year!)…
    CNE The Food Building Restaurants

    Mmm, fudge… It has become nearly a tradition that we bring fudge home back from the CNE each year.
    CNE The Food Building Fudge Pot

    CNE The Food Building Jake's Lobster

    We had decided on grabbing the Signature OG’D sandwich (with beans and coleslaw) from Pull’d and Clam Chowder fries from Jake’s Lobster (we had to line up for the fries, but it was worth it.)

    CNE The Food Building Pull'd
    CNE The Ex: Enjoying Lunch at the Food Building

    The Food Building App, much like it’s sister app Grabb, will tell you when your food is being prepared, and when its ready to be picked up. Once you get the notice for pick up, you just head over to the pick-up sign, without having to face that long line up those non-vip peeps are standing in.
    CNE The Ex - Using the Food Building App to Order Lunch without getting in line!
    Be the hero by letting your buddies on twitter know they can ditch the line ups at CNE’s The Food Building!
    [bctt tweet=”Whoa! Order food at @LetsGoToTheEx on ur phone, and skip the long lines w/ @TheFoodBuilding app!”]

  4. Epic Sand Castles

    I always have to check out the incredible sand art each and every year. I’m not even sure if “castles” is the right term for these monstrous, but gorgeous, bits of art made out of sand. They’re always a wonder to see, regardless of when you check them out. The Sand Castle challenge is one that is worked on throughout the show, so you can go check out its progress, if you happen to be at the Ex more than once throughout the two weeks.

    Sun for Everyone
    CNE The Ex Epic Sand Castles "Sun for Everyone"

    I’m not entirely sure if the parent-ape is meant to be caged or cybernetic, with the two baby-apes hugging them, but this one amazes me, while also making me a bit sad. Awwwwhhhhh….
    CNE The Ex Sand Castle Apes

    The eye definition in this castle simply floors me, wow.
    CNE The Ex Sand Castle Distopia

  5. Geek Entertainment

    This year’s Ex has some great geek-filled exhibits to enjoy! I kinda blinked a few times when I saw an art display for “The Big Bang Theory” television show in the Queen Elizabeth building, with some epic pieces within.

    CNE The Ex: The Big Bang Theory Art Exhibit

    There is also a Sherlock Holmes exhibit in the Energy Building. You’ll get to see items like Holmes’ deerstalker and pipe, early 1900’s transportation, and even bits of art tributing recent actors playing Holmes and Watson. There’s a trivia game to play; one that shocked me with how many random Sherlock Holmes facts I knew. From the name of his iconic detective hat, to the different actors that have played Holmes throughout the years, its a tricky game, but that just makes it more fun!

    CNE The Ex Sherlock Holmes Exhibit

  6. Bands, Beer Tents and Wine Bars

    All throughout the Ex, you can find fenced in areas that are dedicated to great music and drinks. Some are themed, like all-day country music, and beach party fun (even with sand to sink your toes in!) This trip, we had decided to try out the wine bar inside the Energy Centre, as the day was hot, and the building was cool.

    CNE The Ex Wine Bar

    We wound up trying a $14 sampler, which was nice to enjoy while we rested our feet for a bit, just before our trip through outlet shops.

    CNE The Ex Wine Bar Sampler

  7. Bon Voyage! Aerial Acrobatic & Ice Skating Show

    I actually didn’t get a chance to see this show yet (there are two show times everyday, but just didn’t work for me last week.) It’s a popular event, so you’ll need to line up early to watch. Even if ice skating isn’t really your thing for the other 364 days of the year, go check out why Canadian Ice Dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won Gold at the Vancouver Winter Olympics back in 2010. I have a feeling the aerial acrobatics by Dominic Lacasse and Karen Goudreault will be an incredible feat to watch as well.

  8. President’s Choice SuperDogs Show

    This show is always fun to watch, with the awe-filled tricks and races that the massive team of dogs can do every year. Try to get seats in the middle of the stands so that you can ogle the gorgeous dogs all you want, but also have a great view of the entire floor show. My fave from a few years ago, was this adorable bull dog called Pot Roast. He was such a character, and could do some awesome tricks despite his size!

    So many apologies for such a blurry image, ack! I’m hoping to switch this one out for a much better pic, once I head back to the CNE.

    CNE The Ex: President's Choice Super Dogs

  9. Outlet Shopping at the CNE

    So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that I love to shop. It’s one of my all-time favourite hobbies! Going outlet shopping at The Ex is something I look forward to each and every year,’cause I know I’ll be bringing home some fabulously discounted, much needed stuff.

    • Bluenotes: I always buy a few pairs of their $10 jeans for Jay every year. I don’t mind saying I love seeing my guy in Bluenotes; and I bought one of my absolutely favourite pairs for him from their outlet. They fit him perfectly, and since jeans are a timeless trend, we could potentially get a whole wardrobes worth for the year for under $100 if we wished. I haven’t done that yet, but I keep thinking, “Why not?”
    • Shoes: There are just SO MANY pretty shoes, from flats to the spikiest heels, to ogle. You’ll find yourself picking up a few, ’cause you can’t beat the price, especially when you find a label you love in your size!
    • Tech: If you’re patient, you’ll find some great tech scattered about the outlet to bring home with you. I wish I could remember the store name, but there was one outlet that was selling TERK antennas for less than a quarter of the original price. If you’re looking to cut your cable, TERK is one of the top antenna brands available, and if you find them at the Ex this year, they’re selling for under $30 (compared to their original $125+ price tag.) I brought one home this year, and it works beautifully. We’ve tried five different antennas so far in the past couple of years (between two TVs,) and this one managed to find 13 stations for us, which is awesome. The most we’ve ever been able to sync with an indoor antenna is 17 channels.

    CNE The Ex Outlet Shopping

Let’s go to the Ex! Have you gone yet this year? Or are you planning to go soon? I’m thinking of going back to spend a fun-filled Labour Day there this year, especially to enjoy the air show! And, maybe get another pair of shoes!

Disclaimer: I did receive product/tickets to create this post, all opinions are my own.