Let's Go to The Ex

Traditions. They give you something to look forward to, a constant yearly or monthly celebration that you can mark on the calendar and count down to. 

My family and I have lots of traditions —Kempenfest, Christmas tree shopping at Drysedale's tree farm, getting our easter basket blessed — but one of my favourite ones is going to the CNE every summer with my mom. 

The crowds! The food! The energy! The colour! The shopping! The shows! And yes, it all has an exclamation mark because the CNE is a big! freaking! deal! I think over a million people visit every year, and this past week, it was so rowdy on one of the days (youth day) that they had to close down the whole shebang early. 

Luckily, Momma and I went on a rather tame day — still insanely busy, but no fights breaking out. 

Here are our favourite things to do at The Ex (in no particular order):

Eat at the Food Building

I've been trying my best to stay healthy this month, but the CNE is a place where all those health dreams go to die. 

Deep fried everything, salty mixed with sweet, cases of food poisoning, calories, calories, calories. I thought "Farm to Fryer" might have had some healthy options... but alas, I wasn't in the mood for a fried pig ear sandwich. 

Luckily, I found my staple "healthy" food, vermicelli with chicken and spring rolls, at a nearby booth. The portion was ginormous, so Mom and I shared it. 

Treat yourself to something unhealthy

Key word here — treat. I know I just went on a huge rant up above on how it's hard to find healthy food at the CNE, but it's also nice to treat yourself to something delicious and indulgent. It is The Ex, after all. 

The treat of my choice (split with my Mom again for optimal healthiness, ha ha) was a hot waffle ice cream sandwich. 

Look how happy this little treat made me!

Watch a show

There's a show for everyone — concerts, buskers, parkour, kids shows like Barney and Bob the Builder, and the iconic Air Show. Year after year, my favourite show is the Super Dogs. With multiple shows per day, and a packed audience, it's definitely a lot of people's favourites. Dogs are just so fun to watch, and after the show, you can pet and take photos with them!

My mom's favourite show is probably the skating show. This year, Olympic Bronze Medalist Joannie Rochette was in the show, along with many other skilled ice skaters as well as acrobats. 

Shop at the International Pavilion

This is one of my favourite shopping experiences of the year, because it feels like a huge market with stalls from every corner of the world. 

Even though I didn't buy anything this time around, I still enjoyed meandering through the aisles and getting a small cultural experience by peeking into the booths.

Take a ride  

The sky ride has been around since 2012, but for some reason, it wasn't until this year that I finally decided to go on it! 

Mom was terrified the whole entire ride (which was really long!) but the views were spectacular and it was totally worth the $6.50.

Take it easy

Even though I live a 10-minute drive away from the grounds, it took 1 hour for us to get there by public transit. That's how bad the traffic is. The lines and the crowds are insane, and to get a seat at any show, you gotta show up 30 minutes early (seriously). 

But, it's all part of the experience. Give yourself plenty of time to explore, and don't get frustrated. Everyone wants to be at The Ex, which is why they're there. So just take it easy, and enjoy every moment!