8 Shockingly Different Things About Toronto's CNE & Vancouver's PNE

Which one comes out on top? 🎡

A woman at the PNE. Right: CNE.​
Staff Writer

A woman at the PNE. Right: CNE.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition and Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition are two big fairs locals look forward to yearly.

I'm a Vancouverite who has attended the PNE almost every year. When I got to chatting with one of my coworkers, Mira Nabulsi, who lives in Toronto and attends the CNE often, we both realized there are so many differences between the PNE and the CNE.

From the food to the events and even the costs, there were a few major things that really stood out to us.

The PNE is way cheaper than the CNE

Mira: The CNE, which is quite popular during the last few weeks of summer, is quite costly, especially if you compare it to what our friends on the west coast are doing. For example, general admission costs $25 for an adult. But if you wish to get on some rides, you could get a "Ride All Day Pass" for $69.25. Yikes!

Ashley: I honestly never thought that pricey Vancouver could have something that was considered cheaper, but here we are. The PNE has very similar ticket options as the CNE — but with cheaper prices. General admission costs $18 in advance or $20 on the day of, a "Fun Ride Pass" is $34 in advance or $39 on the day of and last but not least, the "Thrill Seeker Ride Pass" costs $45 in advance or $50.00 on the day of.

These prices may seem expensive, but apparently, they are cheaper than the CNE!

The CNE has better views

Mira: The CNE is located on the waterfront in Toronto. It's far enough from the Toronto city skyline that it makes getting on the Ferris wheel during sunset worth all the photos. You can actually get to The EX by riding your bike and going down Martin Goodman Trail on the waterfront, which is breathtaking.

Ashley: Although the PNE is near Vancouver Harbour, you really can't see it. The fair is pretty much tucked into the city's east side and if you want to catch some water views, you'll have to sneak a peek on top of one of the rollercoasters.

The PNE has an amusement park beside it

Mira: The CNE has over 60 rides and games, but none are permanently located in Toronto's exhibition place, unfortunately. Every year, around the same time, excluding those COVID-19 years, of course, the CNE builds and takes down the rides and games, so it's very seasonal. But then again, who wants to get on a roller coaster during winter, yeah, definitely not me!

Ashley: Playland Amusement Park is attached to the PNE and it is open much longer. Basically, you can experience all the fun of the rides outside of the PNE's open dates.

The PNE is open from August 20 to September 5 — while Playland opened up on June 18 and will remain open until the Fall when they transition into the Halloween Fright Nights events.

CNE has wilder foods than the PNE

Mira: Calling all foodies, if you don't care about how much junk you can consume in one day, then make sure to try out all the crazy eats at the CNE! From two-feet tacos, ketchup and mustard ice cream (yup, you read that right) and Flaming Hot Cheetos burgers, the CNE definitely does not disappoint, and honestly, the creativity never ends.

Ashley: Although the PNE has many options to taste test this year, nothing is as wild as ketchup and mustard ice cream. With that said, you will be able to find some wild food item options like cotton candy noodles and other foods that will totally blow your mind.

The PNE has better live performances

Mira: I'm not going to lie, other than Marianas Trench and Howie Mendel, I don't quite recognize the other performers on this year's CNE list. Sorry, not sorry?
Ashley: The PNE has a pretty sweet lineup for its Summer Concert Series this year — including Nelly on September 2. Unfortunately, this event sold out super quick but if you can find some tickets out there, you still might get the chance to see him.

The CNE has a National Geographic exhibit

Mira: Other than rides and wild foods to choose from, the CNE also offers Torontonians the chance to check out some incredible exhibits. The one that caught my attention this year is the National Geographic exhibit. This travelling exhibit will showcase photos of wildlife that date back to 1903 and feature their stories.

Ashley: The PNE doesn't have any exhibit like the National Geographic exhibit, although they do have a Dinosaurs Around the World outdoor exhibition this year!

The PNE has a super old rollercoaster

Mira: The CNE is only around during the summer, and because of that, the rides are "new," if you want to call them that. They may look rusty and outdated, but I wouldn't necessarily call them old. So, on that front, I guess the CNE isn't as historical or meaningful as the PNE.

Ashley: "The Wooden Roller Coaster is Playland's most historic and spectacular attraction," according to the PNE website. It was built back in 1958!

It's an iconic ride that has been enjoyed by Vancouver locals throughout generations and fingers crossed that it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

People think the CNE is better than the PNE

Mira: Well, it's not just me saying it, but 80% of people who voted on a poll we put up on Narcity's Instagram pages last week said the CNE is better than the PNE. And the people are not wrong. Even though I haven't been to the PNE, personally, after speaking with Ashley, I feel the CNE has much more hype and activities than the PNE, and the people absolutely agree!

Ashley: Personally, I can't say one or the other is better because I have actually never been to the CNE. Although the PNE has a special place in my heart, it seems as if Canadians think the CNE is better than the PNE.

Ashley Harris
Staff Writer
Ashley Harris was a Staff Writer for Narcity Canada's Western Desk focused on restaurants in Vancouver, and is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Mira Nabulsi
Associate Editor
Mira Nabulsi is an Associate Food & Drink Editor for Narcity Media focused on all your favourite eats and is based in Toronto, Ontario.