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How to Bring Carnivals and Fairs Home

The long-awaited summer of 2020 is finally here! However, as the new school year quickly approaches, many are finding the summer holidays to be bittersweet. Memories are normally filled with sunny days spent with friends, cottage trips, ice cream runs, and the exciting days at fairs and festivals. But this year, as we all know, has been far from “normal.”

Manitoba Summer Fair (BDNMB)

Fairs and festivals are definitely a summertime favourite. Among the wild rides and attractions, the entertaining performances, the glorious carnival foods, the tricky festival games, the upbeat music, and the colourful sights, there is endless fun for all. 

This summer, due to the pandemic, many fairs and festivals have been cancelled to avoid large gatherings and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)—the largest fair in Canada and one of the ten largest fairs in North America, attracting over 1.4 million visitors each year. These tough decisions were necessary to protect the health of citizens during the pandemic, although it is sure to bring disappointment to those looking forward to these events.

What if you could bring the fair to your very own home? Well, without further ado, let’s jump into how you can host a summer fair while staying safe in your own home!

Setting the scene

First off, we will need to set the scene. We can’t have a summer fair without the colourful carnival scenery! Here are some DIYs to bring the bright and colourful carnival right into your living room or backyard:

DIY carnival ideas (Etsy, The Reluctant Hippie)

  • Set up a photo booth. Capture endless fun photographs with cardboard photo backgrounds! Check out Sometimes Creative Blog to see unique DIY photo backgrounds with face cutouts.

  • Create carnival signs. You can design your own, or browse the many templates found on the web. These truly add to the carnival theme!

  • Hand out carnival tickets. Whether you purchase them at the dollar store, print them out, or design your own, these little tickets definitely create a realistic carnival experience. Hand out these colourful tickets to your guests to be used for carnival activities, games, and treats!


We can’t have a fair without the tricky games and prizes! Below are some fun and easy carnival games you can put together right at home:

DIY ring toss and balloon pop (Tip Junkie, Ace of Games)

  • Ring toss: line glass bottles in a box and use circular objects as the rings. The goal of this game is to throw the rings from a distance, and have them land on the bottles. You can also use pylons instead of bottles and bigger rings to make the game easier!

  • Knock-em-down: stack up cans or cups on top of each other to form a pyramid. The goal of this game is to knock down the pyramid by throwing a ball from a distance.

  • Candy guessing: How many candies are in the jar? This is a guessing game that is sure to fill your guests with excitement. Fill up a clear jar with candies and have everyone guess how many candies are contained inside. Closest guesser wins the candy jar!

  • Ball toss: set up baskets each of different distances from the starting line. The goal of this game is to throw the balls into the baskets. The further the basket, the more points! This classic carnival game is sure to test your throwing and aiming skills!

  • Balloon pop: blow up balloons and attach them to a board. The goal of this game is to pop the balloons by throwing darts from a distance. For a kid-friendly version of this game, visit Carnival Savers to learn how to make a dart-free balloon pop game!


Lastly, we can’t forget about the carnival foods! The unique and delectable treats are an integral part of the fair experience. With these recipes, you will be able to enjoy iconic festival foods right at home, while avoiding those dreadful waits in long lines!

Candy apples and corn dogs, signature carnival foods (FSN, Rare Life)

  • Funnel cakes: this delicious fried dish, topped with powdered sugar and fruit, is definitely a fair favourite! Visit Honest Cooking Magazine for an Authentic Carnival Funnel Cake recipe.

  • Caramel popcorn: this sweet and salty treat is one you can never get enough of at the fair; it will certainly be a favourite among your guests. Visit Taste of Home for a delicious 3-step caramel popcorn recipe.

  • Corn dogs: this fried hotdog-on-a-stick is a delicious and popular carnival food, and easy to make at home! Visit Delish for a quick and easy corn dog recipe.

  • Cotton candy: this is an iconic treat that always brings excitement; after all, there is nothing quite like eating a sugary cloud on a stick, is there? Check out this recipe by Simply Sweet to learn how you can make your own cotton candy at home, no machine needed!

  • Caramel apples: these delicious treats are a sight on their own! Coated with a layer of caramel and topped with chocolate, sprinkles, nuts, and more, these will definitely bring back memories of days at the fair. Visit Taste of Home for a tasty carnival caramel apple recipe.


A day at the fair is always a day filled with laughter, excitement, and memories to last a lifetime. Although we may not get to visit them in person this year, these fun times will certainly not be lost. With DIY decorations, carnival games, and delicious recipes, you can create a unique fair experience in your own home. Have fun!

Article contributors: Sherilyn Wen, Victoria Huang