Going to the Ex at the end of summer is a bittersweet tradition. Read on to see what to eat, where to shop and what to see at the CNE 2016!
I wanted to dress comfortably, so I wore a pair of casual sneakers with a light pink dress to match the pastel, retro hues of the Midway at the Ex. I always love walking through the carnival stalls and watching the rides. The midway gets especially dreamy at night!
CNE 2016: Shopping at The Ex
I used to come to The Ex for back to school shopping. It was a chance to pick up those super cool velour jumpsuits at a discount my mother couldn’t resist. Now, the selection of bargain retailers has dwindled, but I did score big this year! Designer Shoe Sale in the Warehouse Outlets had an amazing selection of clearance from brands like Sam Edelman, Vince Camuto and even Cole Haan. I picked up three pairs of shoes, all at $50 each! The racks are arranged by size, and they had a healthy amount of shoes in my 8.5. Keep in mind the selection is limited to only a few brands and many were in rough shape, but I still found good items.
Also a fave of mine is the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies Pavillion in the Queen Elizabeth Building. It’s a great chance to pick up a unique gift. I tend to gravitate towards the jewelry or home booths, but food vendors like the Bean Ladies or natural soaps also make great gifts.
I also picked up a beautiful Yak yarn scarf from a Tibetan booth in the International Pavillion. It was a great price and will look gorgeous in the cooler months.
CNE 2016: Popular Food at The Ex
Eating gluten free at the CNE 2016 can be a challenge. I found that the legend in the Food Building indicated about 15 restaurants to be gluten free, but when you go there, nothing on the menu is actually gluten free. Save for a vegan restaurant (hello, I still eat meat) and a couple Indian outfits, it’s a little bit difficult, so I would consider packing a picnic or something to go along with your french fries. I ended up eating a brisket poutine minus the sauce from House of Brisket. I nearly died when one of the gluten free restaurants in the Food Building was “Clearly Canadian.” I assumed it was a poutinery, only to find it’s WATER! I couldn’t stop laughing at the irony.
While I was trying to convince Daniel to eat the cricket hot dog, he had a Jamaican patty burger which he really enjoyed! I have to admit I was a little bit jealous, but reminded myself that cotton candy is always gluten free! Beyond the Food Building, there were food trucks in the midway, including a Fran’s milkshake truck stocked with their popular creations.
CNE 2016: Entertainment at the Ex
This year, we tried to make it in time for the Aerial Acrobatics show, but with a streetcar shut down, we didn’t make it in time. Instead, we watched The Superdogs, which is always adorable. Great for kids, the interactive show will have you screaming and aww-ing for a whole hour. I also love how at the end you get to meet and pet some of the dogs from the show.
My sister caught the aerial acrobatics show and adored seeing Canadian bronze medallist, Joannie Rochette perform in the show. Coming off of the Olympics, it’s incredible to see these performers live! I’m hoping I might get a chance to get to the Ex earlier in the day to catch the show, which plays at 2 pm and 5pm in the Ricoh Coliseum.
The CNE 2016 is packed with shows and concerts. Definitely plan ahead and see if you can catch a show for free, as they’re included with admission. Bonus – if you’re seeing a concert at the Molson Amphitheatre or watching an Argos game, you can get into the CNE 2016 for free!