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Canadian National Exhibition

Hot Date: Have an Ex-cellent Adventure

The midway is always a popular attraction at the Ex.

AUGUST 17 TO SEPTEMBER 4  The summer isn’t complete without a trip to the Canadian National Exhibition. More than your average carnival, this end-of-season fair brings to the city an oversized playground filled with midway rides and games, aerial acrobatics, an ice skating show, a petting farm and even a casino. Epic culinary concoctions in the Food Building are always a highlight, as are the various international shopping pavilions. For even more entertainment, check out free concerts by the likes of Big Sugar (August 18), Nick Carter (August 19) and The Arkells (August 29). Exhibition Place, $12 to $16; call 416-393-6300 or check here for more information.

Weekend Roundup, August 19 to 21

Friday: Have a grand ol' time at the CNE

Friday, August 19
It’s that time of year again, the Canadian National Exhibition is here to stay for 18 days starting this weekend! Visitors can expect more than 50 midway rides, classic fair food and non-stop entertainment at this end-of-summer event.

Don’t miss Grammy-winning rapper Lil Wayne, who brings his I Am Still Music tour to the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. Along with the usual cadre of hype men, Weezy is joined by special guests Keri Hilson, Lloyd and Far East Movement.

Celebrate the culture of South Asia at Harbourfront Centre’s Masala! Mehndi! Masti! festival. Now in it’s 10th year, the event strives to showcase the many diverse aspects of South Asian culture all weekend long.

Saturday: Sinatra soundtracks Come Fly Away (photo by Joan Marcus)

Saturday, August 20
Get swept away by four love stories set to the music of Frank Sinatra in Come Fly Away. The musical opens this weekend at to the Four Seasons Centre with a crowd-pleasing mix of lively choreography and a soundtrack full of classics.

Who doesn’t love blueberries? The summer fruit is honoured at the Wild Blueberry Festival presented by Evergreen Brick Works. The all-day event includes live music, blueberry tastings and activities for the entire family.

Rock out at the Queen West MusicFest in Trinity Bellwoods Park. The indie jamboree begins at 1 p.m. with live music from Stephen Prickett, Miss Emily, Mike Evin and many more.

Sunday: Enjoy an afternoon in the Toronto Music Garden's serene environs

Sunday, August 21
Make your way to the Toronto Music Garden this afternoon to hear the Shiraz Ensemble take Persian classical music to a new level. The ensemble focuses on exploring regional rhythms, tradition, composition and singing.

Spice up your weekend at final day of the fourth annual Havana Cultura Toronto. The festival, centred on Ossington Avenue, infuses Cuban culture into the city art, dancing and music .

Don’t miss the last weekend of Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. The award-winning show features entertaining stories—both poignant and hilarious—about life in Hollywood, as told by Fisher herself.

Hot Date: Let’s Go to The Ex!

AUGUST 19 TO SEPTEMBER 5 Deep-fried butterballs, a human cannonball and the Snowbirds aerobatic squadron—see them, and much more, at the Canadian National Exhibition. Known as “The Ex,” this end-of-summer fair has something for everyone, including a huge midway, discount shopping pavilions, a garden show and even a casino. The CNE Bandshell features performances by the likes of Marianas Trench (August 21) and Loverboy (August 27), or head to the Food Network Stage for cooking demos by Top Chef Canada contestants. Exhibition Place, admission $12 to $16; call 416-393-6300 or visit here for further details.

Hot Dates: Air Show’s Return Flight

The Snowbirds

SEPTEMBER 4 TO 6 Look up in awe as professional pilots perform thrilling aerial aerobatics at the Canadian International Air Show, an annual end-of-summer tradition. A diverse squadron of modern and vintage aircraft swoop the sky above Lake Ontario, but the stars of the four-hour show are the Snowbirds—the Canadian Forces’ iconic demonstration team celebrates its 40th anniversary of dizzying stunts and formation flying this year. Spend the day at the Canadian National Exhibition or Ontario Place and get a great view of the spins, loops and tail slides from the park’s southern shore. 12:30 p.m.; call 416-263-3650 or click here for more information.

Weekend Roundup, August 27 to 29

This last August weekend is jam-packed with activities—make it count!

Friday: See the Rom Shing Hakka Opera at Telus TaiwanFest

Friday, August 27
Canada’s largest fair continues! The Canadian National Exhibition has something for everyone, including rides and games, a working farm, daily parades, celebrity chef demonstrations, live concerts and entertainment, and so much more. See you at The Ex!

Exploring the concept of the “crossover,” this year’s Telus TaiwanFest offers a number of cultural events—both traditional and contemporary—related to the intermingling of Taiwanese, Canadian, Dutch, Japanese and indigenous cultures. Harbourfront Centre is home to this weekend-long festival, featuring dance, theater, fashion, food and live music. Tonight, witness a performance by the Rom Shing Hakka Opera Troupe.

Scotiabank Buskerfest takes over the streets of the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood beginning tonight! Some of the world’s most talented street performers, including members of the renowned Cirque Éloize, are on hand to show off their unique skills. A donation to the Epilepsy Toronto charitable organization is encouraged.

Saturday: Laugh with Graham Harley and the cast of What the Butler Saw (photo by Sian Richards).

Saturday, August 28
Attention all comic book enthusiasts, sci-fi aficionados and anime experts: Fan Expo Canada has arrived. The largest event of its kind in the country features top names in geekdom, plus vendors, panel discussions and more. Don’t miss the Masquerade on Saturday morning, when die-hard fans show off original costumes of their favourite characters!

Enjoy a theatrical night out with a performance of What the Butler Saw, an inappropriately hilarious play on now at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The witty farce is set in a psychiatrist’s office and is certain to keep the audience guessing which characters are the sane ones.

Cheer on “The Reds” this evening, as Toronto FC squares off against Real Salt Lake, one of Major League Soccer’s top teams. Can Dwayne DeRosario and company sneak into the playoffs with a win tonight? Head to BMO Field to find out!

Sunday: Sunnyside Pavilion hosts an art fair (photo by Imnop88a)

Sunday, August 29
Against all odds, ’90s grunge stalwarts Stone Temple Pilots are back with their first original album in a decade. The Scott Weiland-led rockers are set to riff on their newest tunes and popular classics at the Air Canada Centre.

Yonge and Dundas Square turns green this weekend. The Live Green Toronto Festival brings together more than 100 exhibitors featuring eco-friendly products and services, as well as live music, street performers, a farmer’s market and more.

The Sunnyside Beach Juried Art Show & Sale returns for another year of fine visuals. Hosted within the historic Sunnyside Pavillion on the shores of Lake Ontario, the event features artworks in various media created by emerging artists. Cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award to give your favourite artist the chance to win a cash prize.

Weekend Roundup, August 20 to 22

The Canadian National Exhibition opens this weekend, but it’s hardly the only game in town. There’s plenty of entertainment for everyone!

Friday: Be touched by the timeless musical, South Pacific

Friday, August 20
Get a major dose of theatre tonight at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, which offers three highly anticipated plays on its various stages. The main event is the debut of Window on Toronto, in which artists from Soulpepper Theatre Company’s academy examine the city from the perspective of a hot-dog vendor. The evening also offers preview performances of Joe Orton’s bold and witty What the Butler Saw, as well as Sharon Pollock’s award-winning drama, Doc.

The play’s the thing at the Four Seasons Centre, too! Take your loved ones to witness a triumphant re-staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. The heart-rending musical romance has received glowing reviews from Toronto critics and audiences.

Head to the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to see a Canadian folk-rock institution, as ebullient East Coast band Great Big Sea is in concert tonight. Get to the venue early for a real treat: emerging all-female country group Ladies of the Canyon opens the show.

Celebrate Cuba with the third annual Havana Cultura festival, which showcases that country’s music, arts and food all weekend long. Tonight, hear popular Cuban musician Julio Cuza, see a cigar-rolling demonstration, and much more. (more…)

Hot Date: Fun at the Fair

AUGUST 20 TO SEPTEMBER 6 There’s no better way to celebrate at the end of summer then with a trip to the Canadian National Exhibition. The country’s largest fair is a cornucopia of fun for adults and kids alike with midway rides and games, a petting farm, a casino, exhibits, international marketplace, and dog and horse shows. Catch live concerts nightly including Down with Webster (August 28) and the East Coast Music Festival with Ashley MacIsaac, the Barra MacNeils and Jimmy Rankin (August 29). Exhibition Place, adults $16, seniors and children $12, kids two years and under are free; call 416-393-6300 or click here for more information.

Weekend Roundup, September 4 to 7

Labour Day on Monday makes for a long weekend, so we bring you a special four-day guide of what to do in the city.

Friday: Vernon Wells and his Blue Jays teammates take on the New York Yankees.

Friday: Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees.

Friday, September 4
Root for the home team as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees in today’s Major League Baseball game at the Rogers Centre.

Howl with laughter at The Second City’s final performance of Are We There Yet?, a sketch comedy revue about families and the summer, shaken up with some improv. Kids age six and older are welcome—and may be invited on stage to participate in the antics.

Move your hips to the mariachi sound of violins, guitars, mandolins and trumpets at the Hispanic Fiesta.

Saturday: Look for local produce at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers market.

Saturday: Look for local produce at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers market.

Saturday, September 5
It’s the opening day of the 60th annual Canadian International Air Show! Peer into the sky to find the Canadian Forces’ famed Snowbirds roar across the blue, twisting and turning in a display of aerial stunts.

Pick up Hot & Savoury pickles, preserved locally in Toronto, from the Toorshi Foods table at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market.

If the pickles aren’t spicy enough for your palate, turn up the fire at the Hot + Spicy Food Festival, where you can purchase a variety of spices, sauces, marinades and dips from the Red Hot Marketplace.

Sunday: See Karen Robinson in <em>The Tempest</em>.

Sunday: See Karen Robinson in The Tempest.

Sunday, September 6
It’s the last night of the Canadian Stage Dream in High Park. Cozy up to your date on a blanket and watch Shakespeare’s The Tempest under the stars.

Treat yourself to Sunday brunch on the intimate patio at Live Organic Food Bar, where you can get dejeuner served up raw and vegan—try the walnut crepes with shaved pear and strawberry compote and cashew chantilli cream.

Unearth some of the best spots for dim sum on the Tour Guys‘ Culture, Cuisine, and Colours free tour of Chinatown and Kensington Market.

Monday: Ride the ferris wheel on the CNE's last night.

Monday: Ride the ferris wheel on the CNE's last night.

Monday, September 7
Recognize and celebrate workers’ efforts and rights at the Labour Day Parade. This year’s theme is “Good Jobs For All.”

Get a glimpse into the indulgent diversions of the affluent people of Zabid in the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition, Coffee & Smokes in Medieval Yemen. (Take the kids—each child for every adult gets free admission to the ROM this weekend!)

The Canadian National Exhibition closes today, so it’s your last chance to down a bag of mini doughnuts, catch an illusionist show, and view the sun setting over the city from atop a ferris wheel.

September Hot Date: Last Days for the Ex

Canadian National ExhibitionTO SEPTEMBER 7 With the arrival of Labour Day comes the unofficial conclusion of summer, but there’s still time to fete the waning season with a visit to the Canadian National Exhibition. The massive annual event offers much to distract from the end-of-summer blues, including midway rides, carnival games, concerts, artisan shows and, of course, fair-fare favourites like funnel cakes, corn on the cob and cotton candy. Exhibition Place, $11 to $15; call 416-393-6300 for more further details.

August Hot Date—Canadian National Exhibition

Canadian National ExhibitionOPENS AUGUST 21 Is it a carnival, casino, amusement park, international shopping pavilion, food haven or farm? All that and much more fun lies within “the CNE” grounds, a.k.a. the Canadian National Exhibition. Take a dizzying roller-coaster ride, view a daily parade, play midway games or challenge an operator to guess your age or weight; pet and feed the horses or brave the haunted house. Enjoy free concerts, hypnotist acts and a nightly light show, too, and see why “The Ex” has been around for more than 130 years. Exhibition Place, $11 to $15; call 416-393-6300 for details.