CNE, other Toronto summer festivals, cancelled for 2nd year in a row

The fun, the food, the festivals put on ice for another summer. Adrian Ghobrial with the potential fallout for some of Toronto's most iconic institutions. 

By Patricia D'Cunha and News Staff

For the second year in a row, some of Toronto’s iconic summer festivals, including the CNE, have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City announced Friday that it is “extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted outdoor events to September 6.”

As a result, summer events like the CNE, Caribbean Carnival, Taste of the Danforth and Beaches Jazz Festival won’t be returning this year.

“The City understands the importance of these events to Toronto’s vitality, liveability and prosperity. City staff are working in close collaboration with event organizers, who in every instance possible have been consulted on this approach and given advance notice of this decision,” the City said in a release.

The City had previously cancelled several in-person events until July 1, including the Pride parade. However, Pride officials said they would move to a virtual event.

Below is the list of the latest events impacted but the City said some may be offered virtually:

  • Taste of the Middle East
  • Taste of Lawrence
  • Honda Indy
  • Toronto Outdoor Art Fair
  • Afrofest
  • Salsa in Toronto
  • 49th Annual Festival of India
  • Bloor West StreetFest
  • Beaches Jazz Festival
  • Oss Fest
  • Caribbean Junior Carnival
  • Scarborough Ribfest
  • Caribbean Carnival, King and Queen Competition, Pan Alive and Grand Parade
  • Taste of the Danforth
  • Vegandale Food Drink Festival
  • Bollywood Film Fair
  • Waterfront Night Market
  • Canadian National Exhibition
  • Mabuhay Philippines Festival
  • Toronto Chinatown Festival
  • Labour Day Parade


The CNE, which is major revenue generator for the city and province, reported a $6-million loss after last year’s event was cancelled. Officials also said it led to a loss of $128 million for the province.

Infographic credit: Destination Toronto

Around 1.5 million people attended the 18-day event back in 2019. This year’s event was slated to run Aug. 20 to Sept. 6.

In a statement, CNE officials said with the second cancellation, the future of the summer staple — which first opened in 1879 — will be in jeopardy without government funding.

“The CNEA [Canadian National Exhibition Association] is committed to working closely with its many partners, including the City of Toronto and provincial and local public health authorities, to plan towards a phenomenal event in 2022, when we can again come together in large numbers to celebrate. But we need adequate COVID-relief funding from the federal and provincial governments to see it through,” said John Kiru, president of the CNE’s board of directors.

The cancellation of the event last year was only the second time in the CNE’s 142-year history that it was forced to close. The previous instance was during the Second World War.

Darrell Brown, the executive director of the CNE said “what happens in the next few months will be a watershed moment for the organization and the legacy of Canada’s largest fair.”

“Today’s announcement by the City means that the CNE will have to reassess the financial viability of surviving a second consecutive year of lost revenues totalling up to $70 million,” Brown added.

RELATED: After losing millions this year, the future of the CNE is in doubt

In a statement, Mayor John Tory said he is working with the CNE to help them weather this setback and plan for a return next year.

“The City supported The Ex when it had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the City will once again step forward to support the CNE again this year,” Tory said.

“We are committed to working with the CNE as a partner, to support continued operations and to ensure that this historic event has a successful return in 2022 and I am confident that the other governments share that determination.”

Earlier in the year, CNE officials said they were planning to re-open this summer. The CNE had told 680 NEWS at that time that the 2021 event would proceed as long as no government restrictions were in place that would stop the annual fair from moving ahead.

Pandemic Toll on Toronto – Destination Toronto by CityNewsToronto on Scribd

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