Tips for Planning Your Trip to the CNE

A pastel coloured merry-go-round sits still

Founded in 1879, the annual event has evolved and grown over the years from an industrial show into a community fair. Today, the CNE, or “the Ex” as it’s commonly known, is one of Ontario’s great annual traditions, drawing over 1.4 million people each year. Want to make the most of your time at the Ex? Here are a few of our tips and tricks for planning your trip to the CNE.

Buy Tickets and Travel to the CNE Using Transit


Want to save money when you attend the Ex? There are several terrific ticket deals

  • PRESTO cardholders can purchase discounted tickets for admission and rides.

  • Opening Day Deal: Take advantage of great deals on the opening day of August 19, 2022.

  • $11 After 5 p.m.: Admission after 5 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays only costs $11. 

Leave your car at home and avoid spending time looking for parking. One of the most convenient ways to travel to the CNE is by either the TTC buses and streetcars (some stations offer some free parking) or the GO Train. The Exhibition Station is one stop (about an eight minute ride) west of Toronto’s main hub (Union Station) on the GO Train’s Lakeshore West Line. Learn more about travelling with GO Transit.  

If you decide to drive, the CNE is accessible from the Gardiner Expressway. Toronto’s Exhibition Place is located on Princes’ Boulevard, north of Lake Shore Boulevard West between Strachan and Dufferin Street. Get information on parking at the CNE.

Pick the Best Rides at the CNE


When planning your trip to the CNE, check out the rides with our sneak preview of what to expect. Love to scream? These ones will leave you exhilarated! 

Himalaya, the Blitzer, and Sky Ride are some of the wildest rides. Here’s a closer look at some of the others offered:

  • Star Dancer: This is a guaranteed thrill ride not just for riders, but also for spectators. Prepare to be dazzled with its over-the-top spinning motion and state-of-the-art light features. At more than 21 metres (70 feet) high, with a full 360-degree loop, this is an intense twirling ride.
  • The CNE Classics: Fans of the Ex come back year after year for these rides that make your stomach drop. From the Swing Tower, to the Mega Drop, and much more, these ones are for the thrill seekers. All of them are included in the CNE’s Ride All Day pass.
  • The Family Favourites: If you’re headed to the CNE with the kids, it’s the perfect chance to revisit some of your own childhood favourites like the classic Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, Keeps, Merry Go Round, Dragon Coaster and more. 
  • Games: The full CNE experience isn’t complete without visiting the Midway and winning a few (or many) plush characters to take home. With dozens of classic carnival games like Ring-A-Bottle, Hoop Shots, Skee Ball, FunBall, Whac-A-Mole and much more, kids and adults alike will delight in trying to win some of the available prizes.  

Attend Your Favourite Shows at the CNE


Each day, the CNE features a wide range of shows. Among these are:

  • The Air Show: Many people flock to the Ex during the Labour Day weekend to watch the Canadian International Air Show, which showcases the dazzling aerial acrobatics of modern military jets, vintage warbirds and our country’s beloved Canadian Forces Snowbirds. 
  • Live Music: Various performers light up the stage at the CNE every year. Many well-known artists have performed here in the past, such as Carole Pope, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Walk Off The Earth and more. Be sure to stay tuned for any upcoming concert announcements! 
  • Exhibits: Whether you’re a kid visiting the Ex for the first time or you’ve been to fairs all your life, you’re sure to find some new and exciting exhibits to see at the CNE. Past popular exhibits include Butter Sculptures, Garden Show, Canadian Armed Forces Interactive Area, 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic and much more.

When planning your trip to the CNE, search for the dates of your favourite shows ahead of time so you don’t miss out!

Get Your Tastebuds Ready for All the Delicious Food at the CNE


Yes, you’ll find all the fried food you’re used to at a theme park, but the CNE has adapted with the times: you’ll now also find various options for healthy food. Over one million people visit the Toronto Star Food Building at the CNE, where visitors can pick between local restaurants serving cuisines from around the world that fit every taste and budget. You can even find menu options that are vegan, raw and halal. Here’s some of the food that you’ll find:

  • BeaverTails: BeaverTails are an iconic Canadian treat that’s made by stretching pastry by hand until it resembles a beaver’s tail, and served hot with butter and other tasty toppings. It was first served in 1978 in Killaloe, Ontario and they’ve been a hit with both Canadian and international fairgoers at the Ex since 1996.
  • Corn Dogs: When you think of fair foods, you think of corn dogs! This carnival staple became popular in North America in the 1940s and remains a fan favourite in the present day. In 2016, the Pickle Corn Dog was voted as one of the most popular “new” foods at the CNE.
  • Tiny Tom Donuts: These delicious morsels of deep fried dough have been associated with the CNE ever since 1960, when the Brazier family first began selling Tiny Tom Donuts there. You can watch the magic behind the machines as the tiny donuts are soaked in oil and coated with your favourite toppings, before enjoying their wonderful flavour.

The Toronto Star Food Building is located west of the GO/TTC Gate and just north of BMO Field. If you need help finding it, take a look at the CNE Map

Be sure to check for up-to-date information when planning your trip to the CNE.

Enjoyed your time at the CNE during a past trip? Consider checking out Canada’s Wonderland, Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, The Factory and other similar places for more fun experiences in Ontario! 
 

Last updated: August 9, 2022

Looking for Ontario travel advice?

Our experts are here to help you plan your perfect trip. Call or book today.