A SUM­MER TO RE­MEM­BER

Qatar Tourism Au­thor­ity's Qatar Sum­mer Fes­ti­val gave the pop­u­la­tion plenty to cheer about over the two months. Qatar­To­day brings you some of the high­lights.

Qatar Today - - CULTURE > QT TAKE -

If you are a kid of 12 years or be­low, liv­ing in Doha for the past cou­ple of months would have been the clos­est you'd have got to par­adise. True to the agenda of cre­at­ing a niche for it­self as a fam­ily des­ti­na­tion, Doha and its sur­round­ing lo­cales were trans­formed into an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture-land of splish-splashy fun, ex­treme(ish) sports, ice-skat­ing Dis­ney char­ac­ters and TV shows. There may have been times when you wished you were a kid again, but we bet none of those times could have been as com­pelling and heart break­ing as when you are stand­ing sadly by the side­lines watch­ing some lucky kid bounce around inside a zorb, won­der­ing if they'd let you have a go and won­der­ing still if you'd even fit into the tun­nel-like en­trance.

Yes, that hap­pened. Zorb­ing was just one of the cool ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing down at the Doha Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, where fam­i­lies thronged, week­days and week­ends alike, for a pleas­antly-fren­zied dis­trac­tion. Even as you are mak­ing your way to­wards the en­trance, you'd see, ev­ery five min­utes or so, a happy and ex­hausted/ hopped-up kid ped­al­ing out of the en­trance on his or her brand new, still-in-the-wrap­per tri­cy­cle (which was quite clearly sell­ing like hotcakes inside, over at the shop­ping sec­tion). Once inside, the full force and mean­ing of Fam­ily Fun hits you. The sprawl­ing ex­hi­bi­tion floor was blan­keted with scream­ing and ex­cited chil­dren, their par­ents trail­ing be­hind them with strollers and bot­tles of wa­ter.

The floor was di­vided into dis­tinc­tive zones – sum­mer freeze, ex­treme ad­ven­ture, kids', stage, in­ter­ac­tive sports, food court and shop­ping. Why it is called in­ter­ac­tive sports zone, we couldn't tell, but as we neared it (drawn mostly by the sight of heav­ily padded young men and women

tak­ing laps around the seg­way cir­cuit), we no­tice a sign warn­ing us of fly­ing stones. The RC car rac­ing track right next door was quiet then but it must have been quite in­tense when the races were on if they had to be by­standers wor­ried about get­ting hit in the face with rocks. The sum­mer freeze zone had a win­ter won­der­land-ish feel with ski slopes, trans­par­ent igloos filled with fluffy feath­ers, ice cas­tles and the like. But per­haps the most ex­cit­ing ac­tiv­ity we saw (yes, more ex­cit­ing than zorb­ing) was the cir­cus school. And judg­ing by the long line of kids stand­ing in the en­clo­sure wait­ing for their turn to trapeze across the room and do a flip-flop into a gi­ant cush­ion, it was a crowd favourite. We didn't no­tice any lit­tle clowns but how per­fect would it have been if the cir­cus school had a lit­tle clown col­lege within? Rock climb­ing and jun­gle ropes gave the older kids some­thing adren­a­line-filled to do with their time. And the Kids' zone had plenty playtimes and car­toon screen­ing to keep the youngest ones oc­cu­pied.

Though en­try was free, all the ac­tiv­i­ties inside re­quired pay­ment. How­ever, they were all rea­son­ably priced be­tween QR10 and QR30 for a cer­tain time or num­ber of laps. For a cou­ple of hours and a QR150 bud­get per kid, you could have eas­ily turned your chil­dren into obe­di­ent lit­tle slaves for the sum­mer on the prom­ise of another fam­ily fun time in the near fu­ture. All zones were manned by a large num­ber of staff, en­sur­ing per­sonal at­ten­tion and safety. Out­side the ex­hi­bi­tion floor, Be­daya Cen­tre had brought to­gether some of the re­tail­ers they support for a small shop­ping sec­tion that fea­tured elab­o­rate wood works, sta­tionery, fash­ion ac­ces­sories and more. As we ex­ited the venue, a large sign di­rected us to other lo­ca­tions around the city where we could en­joy the Qatar Sum­mer Fes­ti­val.

The in­flat­able aqua park that had sprung up at Al Wakrah beach was one. Wa­ter slides, beach games, splash pools and more helped many a fam­ily cool off this sum­mer. For the older but still young at heart ad­ven­tur­ers, ac­tiv­i­ties like snor­kel­ing in Qatar's Fring­ing Co­ral Reef, scenic flights, kayak­ing, stand-up pad­dle board­ing, etc were ar­ranged near the Al Khor Mall. And all the fun was not re­served for the out­doorsy types (though they did get the lion's share of it); mall birds had much to cel­e­brate as well. All the big malls had plenty of sum­mer of­fers, raf­fle draws and spec­tac­u­lar prizes like Audi cars as give­aways. And QTA took a page out of Dubai Mall's awe­some mu­si­cal foun­tains with the one they put up in the Cor­niche near the Al Mourjan restau­rant. Set to clas­si­cal sym­phonies, the jets of colour-drenched wa­ter shot up 50 me­tres into the sky, wow­ing the gath­ered crowd. Ev­ery evening at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, the foun­tains were def­i­nitely worth the night­mar­ish traf­fic sit­u­a­tion you had to suf­fer through be­fore you got there.

The Fes­ti­val wrapped up with the coup de grace - Dis­ney On Ice. The new Rockin' Ever After show, which ran at Qatar Na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre be­tween Septem­ber 24 and 27, not only fea­tured the clas­sic sta­ple of Mickey Mouse, Min­nie Mouse, Don­ald Duck and Goofy but also brought to life (on ice) the sto­ries of The Lit­tle Mer­maid, Beauty and the Beast, Tan­gled and, for the first time, Brave. Like we said be­fore, there was no bet­ter time to be a kid than in Doha in the sum­mer of 2014

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