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CNE returning after two years with new events, attractions

Popular event taking place over 18 days in Toronto
2020 08 21 The Ex
Canadian National Exhibition | Facebook photo

After a two-year hiatus, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) will mark its highly anticipated return Aug. 19 to Sept. 5 for 18 fun-filled days of all-new features and returning events expected to attract more than 1.4 million visitors through the iconic Princes’ Gates.

This year, the CNE has raised the bar sky-high (literally) with a dazzling nightly Drone Show, created for the EX, featuring 100 drones that will light up the night with precise formations and colourful images. Drones also play a role in the CNE’s new multimedia show, NEVAEH and the NorthStar, presented by VinFast, that merges the most cutting-edge theatrical technology, pyrotechnics, and augmented reality to take audiences on an immersive odyssey through time, land, sea and galaxies.

Festival season culminates at the CNE with special events including a Mardi Gras Food Truck Festival (Aug. 20 to 23, evenings), Food Truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest (Aug. 25 to 28), and new Celtic Food Truck Festival (Sept. 1 to 5) celebrating Celtic heritage, music and food.

Fan favourites return with new twists such as a new SuperDogs show, Pawvengers, the 2022 Canadian International Air Show featuring the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team and Canadian Forces Snowbirds, and Gaming Garage Powered by AMD is back for all 18 days of the fair in a new, expanded location inside Hall B of the Enercare Centre with more tournaments, prizes, and free-play games. The Celebrity Kitchen Stage is also back for the first time since 2017, to dish up some inspiring meal ideas from chefs Claudio Aprile (MasterChef Canada), Corbin Tomaszeski (Dinner Party Wars), Bob Blumer (The Surreal Gourmet), and Matt Dean Pettit (Rock Lobster Food Co.) to name a few.

There has never been a shortage of photo opportunities at the EX, whether it’s in front of the illuminated CNE sign, or overlooking the fair on the Sky Ride (celebrating its 10th anniversary) — and new this year on the midway, it will be hard to miss the 34-foot-tall double-decker merry-go-round, a picturesque menagerie of lights and colours offering a new Instagram-worthy POV of the CNE. Whether capturing the views, creating new memories, or enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of the CNE, there are plenty of reasons to say, “Let’s go (back) to the EX.”

2022 highlights at a glance

New: Nightly drone show — Cap off a fun-filled day at the fair with a colourfully dynamic drone show featuring 100 drones that will illuminate the night with an array of stunning images. The show is designed by Canadian company and leading drone formation specialists North Star Entertainment, who have wowed audiences at major events for the NFL, NBA and NASCAR. (Aug. 19 to Sept. 4, at 10:45 p.m. above the Food Building.)

New: NEVAEH and the NorthStar presented by VinFast — Making its stunning debut at this year’s CNE, NEVAEH and her trusty drone, NorthStar, embark on a never-before-seen odyssey through time and space featuring groundbreaking projection mapping, augmented reality, laser, pyrotechnics and indoor drones. Cutting-edge theatrical technology takes audiences on an epic journey in this spectacular new multimedia show. (three shows daily, at Coca-Cola Coliseum.) 

New: Celtic Food Truck Festival — To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, a new festival takes over Princes’ Boulevard for a rousing weekend that celebrates Celtic culture with music, entertainment and food. (Sept. 1 to 5, Princes’ Boulevard.)

Fourth annual Gaming Garage powered by AMD — Back by popular demand, the CNE’s Gaming Garage powered by AMD and Innovation Garage are bigger and better than ever. New this year, the gaming extravaganza will run throughout all 18 days of the fair featuring everything from e-sports and pinball tournaments to Dungeons and Dragons, board games, VR, Video Game Dance Floor, and more. As well, the Emerging Innovators Pitch Competition takes place Aug. 28, convening Canada’s brightest innovators to pitch their inventions and compete for cash prizes; and a robotics competition takes place Sept. 2 to 4, where contestants and their creators will spar head-to-head to determine which bot will take the crown. (Daily, 2 and 5 p.m., Enercare Centre Hall B.)

Celebrity Kitchen Stage — Celebrity chefs are back for the first time since 2017. The CNE’s Celebrity Kitchen Stage will feature a roster of renowned chefs, Canadian culinarians, and mixologists such as MasterChef Canada’s Claudio Aprile, Corbin Tomaszeski of Dinner Party Wars, and Food Network star Bob Blumer. Get inspiring meal ideas with Caribbean-inspired flavours from La-Toya Fagon or learn how to properly cook with seafood from Rock Lobster’s Matt Dean Pettit. (Daily, Enercare Centre Hall A.)

Food Truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest — Everyone’s favourite food truck festival is back. Food Truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest will feature more than 20 vendors offering global fare from perogies to Egyptian street food, Caribbean roti to pho dumplings. Wash it all down with a selection of icy cold craft brews. (Aug. 25 to 28, Princes’ Boulevard.) 

SuperDogs — Get ready for a paw-some good time with the SuperDogs. Celebrating their 40th anniversary, these incredible canines will unleash their super powers in a high-energy, high-flying adventure show, Pawvengers. (Daily, Enercare Centre Hall D.)

Celebrating CNE heritage — Step into Doorways to the Past displayed throughout the grounds for an interactive journey of the EX through the eras; travel back in time and walk through the iconic history of the CNE and its storied grounds with the CNE Heritage Immersive Experience (Enercare Centre Heritage Court Gallery) or join the CNE Ghost Walks to learn about the fair’s haunted history and legendary spirits.

CNE Bandshell — Enjoy summer nights outdoors while rocking out with Tom Cochrane or Marianas Trench; jammin’ to the reggae tunes of Jay Douglas; singing along to Gordon Lightfoot’s greatest hits — or discover new music from Juno-winning artists including Indigenous singer-songwriter iskwē and 2022 Breakthrough Group of the Year MONOWHALES, and more. All concerts and performances are free with CNE admission. New this year, the bandshell is shining the spotlight on some of Canada’s funniest acts, headlined by America’s Got Talent judge and one of the most successful comedians in the world, Howie Mandel, on Aug. 19.

Kids’ World — Families can enjoy the mini-midway for kids, interactive programs such as the Pizza Nova pizza-making shop, and plenty of entertainment on the Kids’ World stage from characters such as Bob the Builder, Dorothy and Wags from The Wiggles, and more. New this year in Kids’ World is a topsy-turvy cirque-tacular show, Cirque Wonderland, a Dino Dig, where aspiring paleontologists can dig for prehistoric artifacts, and Chalkmaster Dave, who will be creating amazing chalk art in Kids’ World.

Art at the CNE

National Geographic’s The Greatest Wildlife Photos Exhibit — The world’s most striking wildlife images will be on display at the CNE. For 115 years, National Geographic has pioneered and championed the art of wildlife photography, and captivated generations of audiences with a steady stream of extraordinary images of animals in nature. (Daily, Arts, Crafts and Hobbies Pavilion and Enercare Centre, Hall A.)

Charles Pachter (a.k.a. Johnnie at the Fair) Exhibit: A Romance with Canada — The CNE is honouring the work of esteemed Canadian painter Charles Pachter and his unique connection to the fair. Pachter starred in the National Film Board of Canada’s Johnnie at the Fair, which celebrated a five-year-old child’s experience at the 1947 CNE after the fair had been closed from 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War. Some of his most renowned works and favourite subject matter will be on display including the Queen and Moose series. (Daily, Withrow Common Gallery.)

Voitek Pendrak Immersive Projections — Toronto-based photographer and multimedia artist Voitek Pendrak presents an all-new 360-degree, immersive experience, titled A Trip Through 103: Therapy for the Soul, that combines his vibrant kaleidoscope-like imagery and cinematography with an original soundtrack to create a truly mind-bending show. (Daily, 1 to 7 p.m., Enercare Centre Salon 103.)

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Exhibit — The CNE invites fair goers to learn more about the land on which we gather, that is part of the Treaty 13 lands and the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat. This important exhibit showcases the history and culture of the Mississaugas of the Credit through art, storytelling, and a variety of interactive experiences. (Daily, Enercare Centre.)

General admission (plus HST and applicable fees)

$20: Advance tickets (purchased before Aug. 18)

$25: General admission (14 to 64 years)

$20: Adults 65 and better

$20: Children (ages 5 to 13)

Free: Children four and under

$75: CNE Family Pass (two adults and two children or one adult and three children)

To purchase tickets, ride passes, and for more information on discounts and promotions, go to

The Canadian National Exhibition is Canada’s largest community event and one of the top 10 agricultural exhibitions in North America. Founded in 1879, the CNE generates an economic impact of approximately $93.1. million for the Greater Toronto Area and $128.3 million for the Province of Ontario each year (when in operation). It is celebrated as one of the “greenest” fairs in North America and attracted 1.4 million visitors over 18 days in 2019.