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Hallerbos – Belgium’s Blue Forest

By alison - April 10, 2015 (Updated: February 21, 2016)

Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest

The Hallerbos, south of Brussels, is Belgium’s blue forest. Each spring a carpet of bluebells makes it a magical place for photographers and nature-lovers.

Hallerbos (Dutch) or Bois de Hal (French) is a public forest in Belgium, mostly situated in the municipality of Halle, in Flemish Brabant. It is located about 15km south of Brussels, within Flanders. The forest is a beautiful place for a walk at any time of the year, but for a few weeks in spring, it has a magical transformation. Hallerbos, also known as The Blue Forest, is carpeted with a sea of blue flowers and is sought out by photographers and nature lovers.

Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest

Walk into the Bluebell Forest

The Common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is a spring-flowering bulbous perennial plant with flowers shaped like tiny bells. They thrive under the beech trees of the Hallerbos in late April.

Bluebells and beech trees are best friends.

Bluebells and beech trees are best friends.

Photographing the Hallerbos is challenging. First, you must get your timing right. If you visit too early in the season, the bluebells will be sparse. If you visit too late, the flowers will be spent and the forest returns to a typical woodland. As the peak season for the bluebells changes every year, depending on the weather, it can take several visits to the Hallerbos before you see the blue carpet it all its glory. You can never completely predict Mother Nature.

We had to visit Hallerbos multiple times before we hit it just right.

We had to visit Hallerbos multiple times before we hit it just right.

The second challenge is the fact that everyone wants to visit the Hallerbos at this time of year. Having tourists and other photographers in your photo can detract from the scene (for tips on avoiding this problem, see my article on photographing gardens).

Hallerbos gets busy so try to avoid weekends or go early or late in the day.

Hallerbos gets busy so try to avoid weekends or go early or late in the day.

The Hallerbos is a busy park at the best of times. There are trails not only for walkers but also for cycling and horseback riding as well.

As with all outdoor photography, the best light occurs in Hallerbos early and late in the day, when shadows are longer and the contrast between light and dark is less harsh. With patience, you can achieve lovely lighting filtering through the leaves of the trees.

Low sun and long shadow make better photos of the Hallerbos

Low sun and long shadow make better photos of the Hallerbos

If you want to photograph macro images of the bluebells, you can take advantage of  an overcast Belgian day for a nice even light without harsh contrast.

Macro photos of the bluebells are better done on overcast days or in the shade.

Macro photos of the bluebells are better done on overcast days or in the shade.

Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest

Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest

Whether you visit the Hallerbos with your camera or just your walking shoes, it is well worth a trip in the springtime to see this magical event.

Hallerbos - Belgium's Blue Forest

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison
Cheese + Goats = My personal heaven. We discover an oasis in the cheese desert. https://t.co/Os8U86UEiX - 8 hours ago

5 comments

  1. Comment by Patrick S.

    Patrick S. April 10, 2015 at 09:23

    Very beautiful!!! For sure a place that I will visit.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison April 10, 2015 at 11:22

      It is a beautiful place for sure Patrick!

  2. Comment by Monika Lamba Saini

    Monika Lamba Saini April 14, 2015 at 12:31

    Thanks for featuring the blue bells Alison…had gone their last year after reading about them on Cheeseweb…definitely worth a visit!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison April 14, 2015 at 12:50

      My pleasure Monika! I’m glad you enjoyed them 🙂

  3. Comment by Christian from Squeeze Pod

    Christian from Squeeze Pod April 18, 2015 at 04:34

    Blue Forest looks so peaceful. Very nice place to visit.

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