1. CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION
The Ex kicks off Friday without long-time partner Ontario Place (it was shuttered back in February), but with the slew of attractions at this year’s CNE, you might not even notice its absence. Thrill seekers can check out the new Midway coaster Nitro, as well as Sky Ride, a new permanent elevated ride through the fair grounds reminiscent of the Ex’s classic Alpine Way. There’s also a dog show, a pizza making workshop, daily “Mardi Gras” parades and plenty of performances (Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys fame will serenade crowds Sunday evening). Of course, there will also be the usual assortment of food both delicious and disgusting (think: deep-fried bacon–covered hot dogs). Aug. 17 to Sept. 3. $16. Exhibition Place, 100 Princes’ Blvd., theex.com.
2. SAIL-IN CINEMA (FREE!)
Catch an appropriately aquatic-themed flick at Sugar Beach this weekend (The Poseidon Adventure will show on Thursday, Creature from the Black Lagoon on Friday, Hook on Saturday). A double-sided screen will be posted on a barge in the harbor, meaning you can watch from either land or sea. While we’re sure the view from the beach will be just fine, the main draw here is the in-boat movie experience. So those sad souls without their own vessel should start calling in favours about now. Aug. 16 to 18. Admission is free, but land viewers must reserve a ticket online in advance. Sugar Beach, 25 Dockside Drive, sailincinema.com.
3. X-MEN MASTER: GORDON SMITH (FREE!)
Wolverine, Mystique, Senator Kelly, Lady Deathstrike, Sabretooth, Toad and Nightcrawler—what do they have in common? Casual X-Men fans will recognize them as comic book characters from the series, but diehard followers will know that they were all expertly detailed in the big-screen adaptions thanks to makeup artist and special effects designer (and Ontarian) Gordon Smith. The full Mystique costume (or non-costume, as it was more like a second skin) will be on display at TIFF’s latest exhibit, in addition to Wolverine’s claws, Nightcrawler’s tail and other bit and bobs. Aug. 17 to March 31, 2013. Canadian Film Gallery at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 1-888-599-8433, tiff.net/x-men.
4. QUEEN WEST MUSICFEST (FREE!)
Your standard Trinity Bellwoods lounging session gets upgraded this weekend to include indie rock and brews as part of Queen West Musicfest. The event does the double duty of giving local bands exposure as they hunt for record deals and raising money for MusiCounts (a music education charity) and the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation. While it’s free to sit and enjoy the performances, admission to the Molson beer tent is only a $10 donation, with beer at $4 a pop (and none of the usual worries about cops enforcing open container laws). Skydiggers to headline. Aug. 18. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Trinity Bellwoods Park, Strachan and Queen St. W., queenwestmusicfest.com.
5. PLANET INDIGENUS (FREE!)
One of the largest contemporary indigenous cultural festivals in the world comes to a close this weekend at Harbourfront Centre, but things aren’t ending quietly. Friday night sees a hip hop dance party hosted by Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award winners Winnipeg’s Most, and on Saturday, there’s Cooking With the Wolfman (that’s chef David Wolfman) and a dance workshop by Australian crew Polytoxic, not to mention painting, beadwork and jewellery from Aboriginal artisans for sale throughout the weekend. To Aug. 19. Select performance events are ticketed. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com/planetindigenus.
6. MOVE: THE TRANSPORTATION EXPO
Anyone who has ever commuted anywhere in or around Toronto, this event is for you. Push subway cars, streetcars and regular cars to the back of your mind and explore alternative transportation options at the Evergreen Brick Works as part of the ongoing Transportation Expo. Test-drive EVs (that is, electric vehicles) from Plug ’n’ Drive Ontario (this Saturday only), or hop on a Segway and reimagine your daily commute. To October 28. The demo is free (must hold valid driver’s license); PWYC to enter the Expo. Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave., 416-596-7670, ebw.evergreen.ca/move.
7. JIMMY CLIFF
After releasing his first studio album in seven years (the aptly titled Rebirth), Jamaican reggae legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Cliff is in town performing at The Phoenix on Saturday night, alongside Kidd Rasta and the Peacemakers. If concertgoers leave the show without Cliff’s classic “The Harder They Come” on repeat in their heads, we’ll be surprised. Aug. 18. $48.50. The Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne St., ticketmaster.ca.
8. ONTARIO SUMMER GAMES
The Olympic torch may be out, but sports fanatics needn’t wait long to get their next hit: the 42nd Ontario Summer Games get underway on Thursday. Although the sports aren’t much different than those you’d watch at the Olympics (the lineup includes archery, karate, soccer, swimming and triathlon), these amateurs are a fair bit younger, between the ages of 11 and 22, which makes their athleticism all the more impressive. See these Olympic hopefuls now before their star turns at Rio 2016. $5 per event, or purchase a $25 commemorative pin and get access to the opening ceremonies and all sports events. Aug. 16 to 19. Various locations, 416-338-5721, ontariosummergames.ca.