1.604 million people flocked to Canada’s favourite fair, resulting in the highest attendance in 25 years
Winner, winner! It’s official, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) has confirmed its final attendance for the 144thedition of the Fair, totalling approximately 1,604,000 visitors who passed through its gates during the 18-day event from August 18 – September 4, 2023.
The tally marks the highest attendance in recent history dating back a quarter century; and surpassing the relevant record of 1.601 million set in 2015*.
The 2023 CNE drew massive crowds with marquee attractions such as the return of programming to the waterfront with the Fountain Show and the Canadian International Air Show, the largest Ferris Wheel to grace the Toronto Skyline, the Ice Skating and Acrobatic Show starring Elvis Stojko, The Pink Floyd Exhibition; as well as a star-studded Bandshell line-up featuring Grammy-winning icon Dionne Warwick and Canadian superstars Jann Arden, Amanda Marshall, Kim Mitchell, Tynomi Banks and Kardinal Offishall among the headliners.
“Last year, we attributed the impressive attendance in part due to pent-up demand following the pandemic; however, this year is validation that the CNE remains steadfast as one of the most enduring, resilient, and beloved annual events that continues to evolve and resonate with people across generations,” says Darrell Brown, CNE CEO. “Despite inflation and challenging economic times for many, we want to thank our patrons for coming out to enjoy the Fair. The CNE is an important tradition for so many Ontarians, and we’ll continue to connect and create memories for new audiences each year.”
The CNE marked an historical milestone in 2022, which saw the event bounce back from a two-year closure with resounding success attracting over 1.56 million visitors; and generating significant economic impact. An economic study conducted in 2022 indicated that the annual 18-day event contributes an economic impact of approximately $112 million for the Greater Toronto Area and $142 million for the province of Ontario each year.
45% of attendees in 2022 were from outside the GTA, generating valuable tourism dollars for the city. Not only was attendance up, but spending per capita was also up, resulting in CNE vendors and businesses increasing their revenues over the last two years. There are 110 vendors in the Food Building, more than 100 concessions and games in the Midway, and over 700 indoor and outdoor retail vendors who rely on the CNE as a significant contributor of their sales and revenue.