The CNE in a day: What to see, what to do, what to buy!

The CNE in a day: What to see, what to do, what to buy!

Mom and I hit up the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition aka The Ex) every single year. There is a lot to do, and if you only have one day to do it all, you’re going to have to be efficient! From the shopping to the fuzzy farm animals to the midway, we blew through the CNE in a record 5 hours… here’s how we did it.

I was lucky enough to get media passes, so we entered well before 10am. Our parking was by “The Farm” building, so we took some pics of the empty grounds and waiting for buildings to open.


The Ex Farm
As soon as you enter the building, you’ll see these crazy butter sculptures. My fave was Jabba the Hut, of course.

We visited with some fuzzers. These Alpaca are from an Ontario farm and are raised for their wool. This farmer also had Alpaca wool mitts, scarves and hats for sale.

The Ex
And more fuzzers… these little chickies must have thought we had food because they kept following the camera around.

The Ex
Then there were some gobblers… I stopped taking pics at this point. There were also pigs, horsies and cows.


Right next to The Farm is one of my favourite buildings:

The Ex
My first purchase of the day was from My Featherband. It was a Tardis shaped hair clip that looks like it was made from giant pixels (expect to see this during my FanExpo post coming in September!). She also carries AMAZING fascinators with a twist… like skulls and butterflies.

Other notable artists:
Crywolf clothing – I actually bought a sweatshirt from them but I am exchanging it due to damage (so no pic)
Carmichael’s Meats – I ALWAYS get pepperettes and at least one smoked sausage from them. This year: KANGAROO MEAT! They are located in both the AC&H building as well as in the Direct Energy Centre Shoppers’ Market.
DannyPollak Jewelry – The most exquisite, handmade costume jewelery I have ever seen. I have a few pieces of Danny’s and I always get compliments when I wear them.
Krazy Kitty – I buy Kurt at least one catnip toy here every year (and one year it was a catnip blanket!)


Now the walk over to the Direct Energy Centre. But first…

The Ex
Grab some cotton candy or beer nuts and make your way through this distracting spectacle!

The Ex
We played a round of Wack-a-Mole and as usual, my beautiful Mom won a prize.

The Ex
I don’t go on the rides anymore, but some of my favourites include the ferris wheel…

The Ex
The cool cable cars that run above the grounds…

The Ex
And the POLAR EXPRESS! Scream if you wanna go faster!

Our first stop in the Direct Energy Centre was the AT HOME PAVILION
Nothing purchased in this section this year, but it is a Made for TV lover’s heaven!

Things to look for:
Persian Rugs – There are a few vendors throughout this area and DAMN these rugs are expensive. But stunning.
Solutions – If I wasn’t walking around for another few hours, I would have bought ALL the organizational things.
Water Magic – I bought the rain showerhead last year and it is amazing! It turned our boring bath/shower combo into a rainfall!

Now we’re at the SHOPPERS’ MARKET and OMG hold onto your wallets, friends.

The Ex
First, our annual stop at the cosmetics blow-out by

The Ex
I look forward to this every year because the deals are crazy and some LE collections end up here. There are TWO SaleEvent booths at the CNE though. The bigger one is on the other side of the building… more to come on that.

The Ex
Then… be still my beating heart. Bamboo shades with purple lens.

The Ex
I spent a good 10 minutes at the G Fox & Co. booth. There are amazing shades, watches and apparel. The company is out of BC and the owner is a cool dude, Junior.

The Ex
Me and Junior Fox. Wassssup! (Yes, I bought those shades and they are amazing)

The Ex
I don’t remember the vendor name for this booth, but these metallic temp tattoos are everything!

The Ex
These were $5 a set and I bought a bunch. (This place also carried some adorable wallets)

The Ex
They even gave us some free samples! I actually hate wearing bracelets, so this is a good alternative for me.

Make sure to check out these vendors too:
Dairy Farmers of Canada – Sit down for a free presentation on cheese. Get free cheese samples and swag. Then BUY CHEESE! OMG CHEEESE!
Drama Queen – I bought probably $150 worth of stuff from them this year. Lots of amazing statement necklaces! And I found out their retail location is literally around the corner from my new office!
Perfume Direct – Any perfume you can think of at great prices. I grabbed a Pink Sugar last year.
Sweepa Rubber Broom – If you have a pet, this will change your life. It is the ONLY way I can pick up cat and dog fur from rugs, hardwood and anything. I have had mine for 6-7 years and even used it one year to clear snow from my sidewalk.

There are a lot of shiny Made for TV things in this building. Don’t make eye contact.  Be wary of the people with the headsets! (Unless you’re like me and you like a house full of Made for TV stuff!)

There is a lot to see in here, lots to buy, and a lot of vendors that are willing to haggle and bargain. NEVER pay the first price you get. Negotiate!

The Ex
I spent a good long time at this booth eyeing the pretty jewelry. I think it was the Israel booth.

The Ex
This is Mom and a “Bobby”. We always stop at the British market to pick up treats for my Grandma and this year I believe there were cookies and maybe some crisps? (Mom, chime in here… I know you’re reading).

The Ex
Although I didn’t get a fruit drink, I was certainly tempted by the novelty of it.

The Ex
Make sure to stop by the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada. There are papers from around the world, and when we stopped by there was John Tory!

Some of my faves from around the world:
Israel – Lots of dead sea products for feet, hands and face! There is also a NAOT booth with some of the comfiest Birk-like sandals.
Iran – They make some of the most beautiful jewelry and they are always up for a good negotiation on price.
Russia – Last year, I got a big ole (faux) fur hat! There is also a second Russian vendor with BABUSHKA DOLLS!

Then we made our way to the other end of the building. Hold onto your wallets, it’s…

The Ex
You may recall the last time I was at the CNE, I fell in love with a pair of floral Doc Martens. And here they are again… but a new love has caught my eye.

The Ex
The beautiful and simple purple leather 8-hole Docs. Practical… right? Am I growing up? (says the girl wearing a Tardis hair clip and strawberry Cons). I bought them. $85 + tax (regular over $200 for this style!)

The Ex
And then I saw it, like the mothership calling me home. The biggest cosmetics outlet I have ever seen at the CNE.

The Ex
The main cosmetics brands were Revlon and CoverGirl but there was also quite a bit of Almay and Rimmel too.

The Ex
Lots of Revlon and Almay face products!

The Ex

The Ex
And yes, I bought the Lady Gaga toothbrush. As Aaron says, “Bad Romance is a great song for brushing!”


  • SoftLips for $1
  • Revlon ColorSilk hair dye $5
  • All Simple products, $7 each
  • Garnier body products, $3 each
  • Lip stain and gloss from CG, Rimmel, Almay and Revlon $4 each or 3 for $10
  • Lipsticks from Rimmel, CG and Revlon for $5 each
  • Powder, foundation and concealer from Revlon and Almay $6 each (I got my ColorStay Mineral Aqua!!!)
  • LE collections included Covergirl Hunger Games, Revlon Spiderman, Revlon Parfumerie, Revlon Marchesa (polish and lipstick only).

Things to keep in mind at this booth:

  • They may not have your shade. If it’s popular, it’s probably NOT for sale.
  • Be careful of no-name brands mixed in with brand names. (especially in the nail polish bins)
  • Do this booth LAST, you will most likely be haulin’.
  • As mentioned above, there are two Sale Event booths. THIS ONE HAS SWATCHES ON DISPLAY!
  • Be patient with the staff, the ones at this booth may be a bit surly (from my experience) but who cares… DEALS!

And there are more outlets if you have any energy left:
First Aid Zone (I refill my travel first aid kit here every year)
Jean Machine
Stitches (like it could get any cheaper?)

On the way out of the building, I noticed the back section where the Warehouse Outlets used to be has a new “MARKETPLACE” area. I skipped it because by this point I was… done.

The Ex
We did walk by this cool Hot Wheels display though.

The Ex
And then… I found Optimus Prime.

The Ex
And Hans Solo trapped in Carbonite!!!!

Make sure to walk through the Pop Culture alley in the North end of the building if you love all things sci-fi!

Enter and exit through the South doors (on Princes’ Blvd). The entrance to the building closer to the Midway is extremely crowded because of the Dog show AND the rock formation guy.

Last stop of the day is always the FOOD BUILDING
(except this year we totally skipped it…)

The Ex

New wacky foods this year include:

  • Butter Coffee (Hula Girl)
  • Thanksgiving waffles made out of stuffing (Fran’s)
  • Cheesecake milkshakes (Fran’s)
  • S’more Bao steamed bun (Far East Taco)
  • Chocolate Fried Chicken (Coco’s)
  • Gelato made with Liquid Nitrogen! (Eative)

But if you’re looking for a bit more peace and quiet and some GOOD eats, head to Bandshell Park for Ribfest.

And that concludes our day. We made our way back to the car with our steals and deals and headed home… see you next year CNE!

The Canadian National Exhibition runs until Labour Day. General Admission is $18. BUT on Mon-Thurs (except Labour Day) it is $6 after 5pm!




Enter the giveaway here

  • A Certain Romance

    A TADIS HAIRCLIP!!!! *dead* Great timing, what with the new Doctor and all!

  • Oh my goodness, so much! I love that tardis hairclip. I nearly bought a pixelated *regular* bow at comiccon last year, but they only had red and with my hair colour, red is a no go.

  • such nice set of pics 🙂

  • Tanya Lovetere

    This looked like a lot of fun! The makeup sales are awesome too!

  • You had me at butter Jabba the Hutt! I’ve never been to the Ex, but you’re really tempting me. So many amazing vendors 🙂

  • Gahh metallic temporary tattoo bracelets ftw!!!

  • Yolennie

    OMG so many great things to do. I can’t wait to go next Tue 🙂

  • This looks like such a fun event and I would definitely go broke if I went! 🙂
    How big was that Jabba the Hut butter thing?

  • gorgeous boots and look at all that makeup wow

  • Jayne

    OMG, butter Jabba, boxes of polish and I love those metallic tattoos!

  • I’m an American transplant into Canada, and I’d never heard of the CNE before. You opened my eyes to its wonder! Currently in Montreal, but Toronto may be calling my name after this. HOW HAVE I LIVED THIS LONG WITHOUT A LADY GAGA SINGING TOOTHBRUSH?!

    Vain Pursuits

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