The Canadian National Exhibition (aka CNE) has always been an end-of-summer tradition for me. Ever since I was wee (and in a stroller) the annual fair was the highlight of every August before heading back to school. Now, after a couple years hiatus the CNE is back with more things to see, do, and eat for all ages!

With over 140 years of history, the CNE is Canada’s largest annual summer event. There are 1,085 entertainers and performers, 70 vendors and exhibitors (go check out the annual warehouse sale for some mega deals!), 140 farm animals to learn about and visit, 144 Midway games to test your skills and patience, 62 Midway rides to feel your heart beat faster than lightening, and 3 food festival programs including Mardi Gras and Celtic Celebrations. All accessible to the public. Admission tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or on site.

Ready? Let’s go to the Ex…again! The CNE opens August 19 to September 5. Here’s what’s worth adding to this year’s CNE Bucketlist!

NEW Nightly Drone Show: Look up and check out the spectacular display of 100 drones that will take over the night skies above. They’ll dance and move in precise formation in a dazzling display. The show happens each night at 10:45 pm above the Food Building.

NEVAEH & The NorthStar: This cutting-edge theatrical show takes audience on an immersive journey through time, land, sea and galaxies. Using pyrotechnics, augmented reality, and roles this is a wonderful story about a girl and her drone friend. Several shows daily.

AMD Gaming Garage: This year’s Gaming Garage will include esports Tournaments, Robots at The CNE FIRST Robotics Competition, an Innovation Garage and Pitch Competition, Pinball, Card Games and more. The Robots at The CNE FIRST Robotics Competition registration is now open! Register for your spot on the site.CNE Kitchen Stage: some of the city’s (and country’s) most beloved chefs and food industry leaders as they take to the Kitchen Stage to offer cooking demonstrations and inspiration for your next meal. Who’s on the roster? Claudio Aprile, Bob Blumer, Doug McNish, Afrim Pristine, Rodney Bowers and Meredith Shaw,  Roger Moore, John Higgins, and many more.

The Bandshell, Midway Stage, Princes Blvd Stages: Catch live performances from  like Marianas Trench, Bruce Cockburn, Iskwē, The Spoons, Dave Wilcox, and many more. Concerts are free with general admission. Link here for performers’ schedule.

Acrobat Alley: located in front of the Enercare Centre catch these jaw-dropping athletes as they jump and bounce off walls and trampolines, suspend in the air, and other impressive human skills that go beyond the imagination.SuperDogs: return with a new  “PAWVENGERS” show featuring Canada’s top dogs in agility and darn cuteness.

Silent Disco: happening twice daily visitors are invited to grab a pair of headphones and boogie on down to the hottest hits with DJs  brought to us by Virgin Radio. Themed nights include K-Pop TuesDaebak (Festival Plaza), Wednesday Rewind – Playing 70s, 80s, and 90s hits all day (Festival Plaza), Gaming music (Gaming Garage) on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and the End of Summer Party in Kids’ World (September 5). See site for full details.

Canadian International Air Show: An annual Labour Day weekend spectacle featuring some of the aviation industry’s most impressive aircrafts including the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the United States Air Force F-35 demonstration team, piloted by Major Kristin Wolfe, the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 demonstration jet, the Canadian Forces SkyHawks — Canada’s only military parachute demonstration team, and Pilot Gord Price will also put on his final performance in his Yak-50 here in Toronto.

NEW Midway Ride! Check out the Double-Decker Merry-Go-Round is a 34-ft tall ride with all the lights and colours offering insta-worthy views of the CNE.FOOD FOOD FOOD! 

One of the major draws of “The Ex” is all the crazy food offerings. This year, brings out all the stops with exciting food and drinks to try…just remember to bring your Rolaids. LOLOLOLOL no seriously. And don’t even think about counting your calories! There are many options from your go-to traditional pizza, burgers, gyros, rotis, and fudge but also many foods that give you all the food-daring bragging rights.

Ketchup and mustard soft serve ice cream by So Cute Ice Cream is already causing a commotion (find them on the midway)Seoul-ful Taters by GYOT (Get Your Own Taters Food Truck) is seriously delicious. Bulgogi, kimchi over taters? That’s heaven right there.This State Fair Hot Dog by Tuxedo Frank‘s says it all! Take in an all-beef hotdog covered with aged cheddar and caramel corn topping.Oh! Don’t forget about Tiny Tom Donuts! That’s a tradition on its own!