What is the World’s Largest Barbie™ Show and Why Is It in Montréal?

Hell is Empty and All the Devils are at the World’s Largest Barbie™ Show

The first thing you need to know about the world’s largest Barbie™ show is that it is tucked away in a dank basement in the depths of Montréal’s Underground City, evidently constructed in the 1990s and then abandoned, rediscovered only periodically by disoriented tourists who were just looking for a water fountain.

The lightless subterranean space is as pristine and lifeless as Barbie™ herself. No one seems to work at the Barbie™ Expo; save for a Barbie™ dressed as Katniss Everdeen, there is no evidence whatsoever that a curator has stopped by in this millennium. In the middle of the cold gray room, a large fountain burbles incessantly, adding insult to injury for the lost and thirsty tourist.

For there is only Barbie™ here—flight attendant Barbie™, poodle skirt Barbie™, ballerina Barbie™, goth Barbie™, Little Red Riding Barbie™. There is a spot-on Farrah Fawcett Barbie™ and spot-very-off Marilyn Monroe Barbie™. There is a Starry Night Barbie™, accompanied by the helpful note “Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh.” There are vaguely racist Barbies™ named “Tribal Beauty” and “Exotic Beauty.” There are David’s Bridal wedding  Barbies™ with ghastly greenish heads. There is a Kate Middleton Barbie™ and a Prince William Ken™, but no Harry and Meghan equivalents, an oversight about which I will certainly be writing an angry email to someone.

The second thing you need to know about the world’s largest Barbie™ show is that if you’re #young and #hip #enough to be reading this budget travel blog, the world’s largest Barbie™ show is not meant for you. Its target demographics are older women and small children—the older women to post enthusiastic TripAdvisor reviews about the Bob Mackie Barbie™ collection, the small children to fit inside a four-foot-tall Barbie™ box for a truly chilling photo op. Also ideal for small children, the Barbie™ Expo is light on reading: Barbies™ are presented free of identifying context, allowing Peppermint Obsession Barbie™ (?) to speak for herself.

The third thing you need to know about the world’s largest Barbie™ show is that once you enter, you’ll lose track of all time and space and everything except Barbie™, sort of like the Lotus Casino from those Percy Jackson books. When I emerged from the Barbie™ Expo, it had somehow become nighttime, and I felt changed. A Barbie™ girl in a Barbie™ world. Also, I was still really thirsty.

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