Looking for a great way to spend your summer vacation out of town yet still in familiar surroundings? Well, take a look at one of Canada’s most famous yearly event – the Canadian National Exhibition!
Held for two weeks at the end of August, this county fair/amusement park/exhibition has been held for over a hundred years and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon! But what’s the appeal and what can you expect to see and experience if you visit?
First, let’s take a short look at the history of the CNE. In the late 1800’s agricultural fairs were shifted around the province of Ontario yearly, allowing small towns to host this event. But Toronto, a growing city, made a bid to not only become the pernament host but to also dedicate land specifically to hold this event each and every year – no more tents, no more muddy ground. Buildings were built and soon over two hundred acres were in use each year for what was then called the Toronto Industrial Exhibition. In the 1930’s an amusement group won the contract to run a midway, consisting of rides and booths to entertain the visitors not already involved in either the agricultural events or gawking at the exhibits.
During the Second World War the CNE grounds were taken over by the military and used as a staging area for Canadian troops preparing to go overseas. Soon after the war ended the CNE returned in all its glory to amuse and entertain anyone lucky enough to wander through the gates and onto one of the biggest parties of the year.
There are many features to the CNE that will appeal to any visitor, be they five or fifty years old – let’s take a look at some of the more popular features that will have you considering the CNE for your next vacation!
The CNE Midway has special rides designed just for the younger set; safe and guaranteed to have your little one laughing with delight as they swoop around in a small airplane or drive a motorboat! For the older set there are a variety of rides that will take your breath away – or perhaps your lunch! Swoop up to dizzying heights and then dive down towards the ground with a speed that will guarantee your heart to be racing even as you scream with delight! And for the older adults there are both agricultural exhibits with the CNE Horse show as well as a series of buildings highlighting the best in horticulture and other areas of interest.
Situated on the edge of Lake Ontario, the CNE also provides an excellent place for the best air show of the year – the Canadian National Exhibition Air Show, happening over Labor Day weekend! Starring the famous Canadian exhibition team the Snowbirds, these aerial acrobats from a variety of countries and stretching from bombers to helicopters will provide you with hours of entertainment as they swoop and dive over the waterfront! You could see anything from a B-52 Bomber to F-16 fighter jets to World War One biplanes as they perform for the public during the three day event. Be sure to get there early, however – while there is no charge for the Air Show there is limited bleacher seating – or you can just bring a towel and stretch out on the grass to view this annual spectacle.
And for those seeking a bit more of a thrill the CNE Casino will provide a chance for you to test your luck. A relatively new addition to the CNE grounds, the casino is a popular place for those seeking relief from the midway and a different type of excitement.
The Canadian National Exhibition has been around for over a hundred years in Toronto; entertaining and enthralling children of all ages with a variety of exhibits from midway rides to horse fairs to air shows. Why not consider a summer visit to this grand old lady and see if you might make it a yearly routine?