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First wild bluebells in Hallerbos begin to blossom

16:12 07/04/2023

The first wild hyacinths are opening their delicate scented flowers in Hallerbos on the outskirts of Brussels.

Each spring, the woodland site is transformed into a predominantly purple floral carpet as millions of bluebells blossom, along with daffodils, wood anemones and buttercups.

It’s an ephemeral sight that captures the imagination of tourists and locals alike, especially as the annual event is an ancient phenomenon symbolising the arrival of spring.

During the brief flowering season, the colour of the bluebells changes from a rich dark blue when they are at their youngest and freshest, to a softer almost pale blue as they begin to fade away.

The 250-hectare woodland spectacle, located mainly in Flemish Brabant, draws between 60,000 and 80,000 visitors every year.

A first wave of spectators is expected during the Easter weekend, although the floral show will be at its most magnificent from 15 to 30 April.

To protect the fragile blooms, visitors are asked to remain on marked paths and not stray into the forest. Forest rangers, police and stewards will be in attendance at the site.

Steward Frans Vanwinghe told RTBF that it was important to preserve the site because any crushed flowers would not grow back for several years. “Around 90% of people respect this rule, but sometimes you see people walk on the floral carpet to take close-up pictures, for a wedding photo or even to have a barbecue. This is unacceptable.”

Offenders are kindly asked to return to the paths. While the majority of visitors respect the site, anyone ignoring the request risks receiving a fine.

People are also asked not to pick any of the flowers, to keep dogs on their leads, not litter the site and not use drones.

Parking is equally regulated. To help people access the woodland, a mobility plan has been introduced by local municipalities. Signs guide motorists to the official car parks, while visitors are also invited to use public transport. From the train station in Hal, it’s possible to use a free shuttle or take advantage of free rental bikes.

Photo: Hallerbos in April 2022 © Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck

Written by The Bulletin