Archive for February 5th, 2012

February 5, 2012

The Quebec Carnival is ticklish fun


The Tornado ride will keep you coming back for more. (Julia Pelish photo)

[First published on]

QUEBEC CITY — Steve Bundy loads into the inner tube alongside me and a half-dozen others. We’re at the top of a hill overlooking the Quebec Carnival site that’s filled with children who you’d think would be the ones lined up to make this descent. Our tube, called a Tornade (or Tornado), is occupied with adults, however; and none of us seem like the thrill-ride type.

Behind us, a worker asks if we’re ready. “Let’s go,” someone in the tube says and upon those words the worker shoves us over the edge. Immediately, we’re spinning down the slope, screaming all the way.

The Tornado is a howl, a ticklish ride that lasts about 20 seconds. It twirls seven or eight times before reaching the bottom of the slope. When the craft slides to a stop, Bundy declares, “That was awesome.” It’s his first time to the annual winter celebration, but Bundy, who has relocated from Newfoundland to Quebec’s capital, is certain it won’t be his last. “I’ll be here every year,” he says.

Just like that, the Quebec Carnival has done what it so often has during its 58 years: win over its visitors who have helped make it the world’s biggest winter festival.

Rides like Snow Rafting, which involves a rubber tube plummeting down the same hill as the Tornado, and the Ice Slide, where visitors scoot through a track while seated on a sled, are most popular with adults. I’ve been to Disneyworld and Universal Studios and Toronto’s CNE many times, but I hadn’t felt like a kid again until this past weekend, when the ride on the Tornado made me eager to get right back in line and do that again. It occurred to me then that the carnival succeeds because it delivers what it promises: fun — and then some. And it does so by retaining the authenticity of a Canadian winter.

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