It’s been a while since I did a Vancouver-specific post. I seem to just stick to talking about the city in my weekly Hayley Lately posts. But with my departure date looming, I think it’s about time I shared some more about Vancouver. Every year at the end of summer, the Fair at the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) happens. I’ve somehow managed to visit the Fair four times in four years: 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Every year there’s something different to eat, see and do. So I thought I’d share some photos from my visit this year (and year’s past) and tell you why I love it so much.
Why I love visiting The Fair at The PNE
1. The food
Guys, the food at the Fair is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s what you’d expect at a fair or carnival in the United States. We’re talking deep-fried everything, both sweet and savoury. Some of the sweet concoctions this year were deep-fried Oreos, cheesecake, butter, coffee, jelly, Twinkies, Tequila-flavoured shots (I can’t make this stuff up) and more. You’re not in Australia anymore! I did try a deep-fried oreo, which was surprisingly good. My friends also tried deep-fried coffee, which they said was like a cake and delicious.
There are so many food offerings at the Fair, including BBQ, burgers, perogies, pizza, tacos, corn dogs and funnel cakes (a personal favourite). The PNE also introduced some interesting food choices to the Fair mix this year. There were cricket burgers, a big pickle corn dog, a two-foot hot dog and the chance to try crocodile or wild boar.
It’s best to go with friends so you can sample as much as possible. We ended up also trying some pizza bites, perogies, a chimney cake from The Praguery and my first BeaverTail. The latter is a Canadian delicacy that’s deep-fried sweet dough (shaped like a beaver’s tail) that’s topped with different spreads. We tried the chocolate hazelnut and it was SO good.
So as you can guess, going to the Fair at the PNE to sample the weird and wonderful food is a must-do.
2. The rides
When I have visited the PNE in the past, I’ve never actually bothered to purchase a separate rides pass for Playland (the theme park is a part of the PNE complex). But this year, my friend got free tickets for both the rides and the Fair, so we decided to go on a few before eating ALL the food. I’ve somehow visited Playland three times since I returned to Vancouver, so I have my favourite rides now.
It’s fun to just be a kid sometimes, you know? Except I am pretty sure most kids in Vancouver go on scarier rides than me. Playland does not mess around. Some of those rides go WAY too high in the air.
3. The shows
Each year, there are family-friendly performances daily. For 2016 and 2017, during the day SuperDogs take over the Pacific Coliseum. I saw their show last year and I thought it was awesome. Dogs doing tricks but also getting distracted too often? Hilarious.
This year we went in the evening, so we saw Unbelievable! A Magical Experience. The magic performance featured magicians who have performed around the world. It was a good show, but after an hour we decided to go in search of more food.
4. The music
The Fair at the PNE hosts Summer Night Concerts daily. This year some of the featured musicians include The Doobie Brothers when I visited, Rick Springfield, Chicago and the B-52s. The 2016 lineup included Simple Plan, Olivia Newton-John, Culture Club and Foreigner. Although it seems to target older audiences, it’s worthwhile checking the lineup before visiting. I noticed this year that they had screens up around the Fair playing the concert, so even if you weren’t in the Amphitheatre you could still sing along.
I attended a concert in 2014. Three Days Grace were performing, and my friend and I thought it would be a total high school throwback, which it was. The Amphitheatre is a cool outdoor space too.
5. The extras
The Fair at the PNE has so much to offer. There’s horse jumping competitions, a barn filled with animals, a Hockey Hall of Fame, plenty of carnival games and psychic readings. There’s also a marketplace that is filled with everything you could want to buy from a TV shopping channel. Other fun things to do include watching music and short film performances at Festival Park, and Toon City and Toytopia for the families.
One of the other quintessential things to do in the Fair is to buy tickets in a home lottery. They have a model of the home on-site, which you can walk through. This year was the first time I’ve ventured inside the house, which was pretty snazzy.
Fun at the PNE Fair
As you can see, from the food overload to the rides to the entertainment, a day at the Fair is a must when visiting Vancouver at the end of summer. It’s inexpensive to enter and there’s just so much fun to be had. I recommend taking public transit though, as the parking is expensive and there isn’t a lot of it. Street parking isn’t allowed for several blocks surrounding the PNE.