Potterheads across the Benelux are thrilled, now the Forbidden Forest is located in Belgium (at least, for a while). Just until the end of January 2023, a nocturnal experience based on the Harry Potter film series has been installed on the Groenenberg Castle grounds in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw. ‘Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience’ is a perfect family trip, close to Brussels. In this blog post, you’ll get some useful information about the event and you’ll also get to see some highlights (be aware of spoilers).
Location: Groenenberg castle domain
Groenenberg Castle is located in the village of Vlezenbeek (in Flemish Brabant). The castle is surrounded by a spacious park (45 ha), which shows some similarities with the English garden architecture. The domain became owned by the ‘Agency for Nature and Forests’ and was opened up to public since then.
Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience
In the Harry Potter film series, the ‘Forbidden Forest’ is mentioned as a place to be avoided. The forest area is located next to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and is very mysterious and dark. Moreover, the Forbidden Forest is home to magical creatures, like unicorns and Hippogriffs. At the start of each school year, Professor Dumbledore emphasizes it is strictly forbidden to enter the forest area. But we’re going to ignore this warning, right? Just for once.
Last weeks, everything was put into effort to transform the Groenenberg castle domain into the ‘Forbidden Forest’. Various techniques are used to make it an immersive experience. First of all, the forest area is beautifully lit up. Furthermore, the Harry Potter soundtrack is played during the walk, as well as several voice snippets from your favorite characters. And probably the best of all: the magical creatures from the Harry Potter film series are brought to life. Don’t forget to bow to ‘Buckbeak’, the mythical Hippogriff, and get yourself access to Aragog’s nest (the giant spider).
You can even cast your own Patronus! The Patronus is a guardian which acts as a shield between you and the Dementor. It’s a kind of positive force, representing your spirit animal. Try it yourself by using the spell ‘Expecto Patronum’. This might sound easy, but actually it is a very difficult spell to perform. Even the most qualified wizards can struggle with it. If you forgot your wand, you can borrow one from the staff members (at Hogwarts, of course, you might lose some house points because of this 😉).
Harry Potter-inspired snacks and drinks
A wizarding village has been set up at the castle square, with Hogsmeade-style cottages and an open bonfire. In this magical place, you can enjoy some Harry Potter-inspired snacks and drinks. Just think of Butterbeer, pumpkin pasties and roasted marshmallows. Yum! Last but not least: visitors can buy the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise in the gift shop.
- Tickets can be purchased on the ‘Fever’ platform. The ticket price varies, depending on the selected date and time. For families and groups, there is a reduced rate.
- Don’t forget to also buy a parking ticket if you’re planning to come to the event by car. The parking lot is very spacious and is covered by metal sheets, so that visitors can easily get in and out the car and make their way to the track.
- The event location is also accessible by public transport (bus nr. 142 – stop ‘Gaasbeek Kasteel).
- It is a nighttime experience, open to public from 5 pm until 11 pm (last entry at 9:45 pm).
- You can walk through the castle park completely independent and at your own pace.
- Several restrooms were placed in the castle park (at the beginning of the experience, about halfway and at the end).