Limburg in bloom
Every year in April, the Haspengouw area of Limburg comes alive in a riot of colour. It really is spectacular: Millions of apple, pear and cherry trees blossom simultaneously, washing virtually the whole of Haspengouw in swathes of pink and white.
Haspengouw’s annual spectacle of colour will help you forget the long, cold winter
Whether it happens early or late in the month depends on many factors – principally the temperature in March. And, well, we all know what that was like. So a sensible guess would be to make your trip later rather than sooner.
The duration of the blossoms is also weather-dependent. A cold, windy spell can bring the spectacle to a sad, early end, but so too can extremely hot weather. On average, a fruit tree flowers for around 12 days. However, your window of opportunity is much wider: Cherries bloom first, followed by pear, then apple.
Keep watch on the local news, which will announce when the first blossoms appear, or check the webcam at www.bloesemfeesten-haspengouw.be to see if the trees are in blossom before you set off.
Tourism Limburg has organised a range of events to help you make the most of this exceptional spectacle.
The Blossom Lounge
These Limburgers certainly know how to relax. For the entire month of April, a huge marquee is erected in the middle of nowhere. And nowhere is just the perfect place because here, uncluttered by buildings and roads, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of blossoming orchards in all directions. Just sit down in a comfy seat, listen to pastoral music, enjoy a fruity drink and simply chill out.
The Blossom Lounge is open every day from 11.00 to sunset – and later at the weekends. It’s at Jufferstraat in Velm; you can park in the centre of Velm and walk there in 10 minutes. You can’t miss it.
Journey back to the days of Dick Dewy and Fancy Day and enjoy a Thomas Hardy-esque picnic under the greenwood trees. But without the hassle of preparing it yourself ! Simply order a picnic lunch for two (three days in advance).
You’ll get rolls, butter, cheese, chocolate spread, jam, apple juice, cutlery, plates and glasses, a selection of hiking, cycling and car routes, and some tips for the most secluded and romantic picnic sites imaginable. And you get to keep the backpack. It all costs €50 for two people. For an extra €15, you get two rental bikes for the day.
A candlelit evening walk
Still feeling romantic? Every Wednesday and Friday evening in April, starting at 19.30, you can enjoy a pleasant walk in between the fruit trees while candles flicker and braziers point the way ahead.
Now and again you will be invited to sit or lie on the grass, count the stars and be regaled with “fruit stories” old and new. Intrigued as to what a fruit story is? Then sign up and pay your €7.50, which includes a bowl of soup.
A guided walk
Every Friday in April, starting at 14.00 at Stationsplein in Sint-Truiden, there is an exclusive guided walk among the orchards. The total distance is 10km, but you won’t be left without sustenance. At the halfway point, you visit the Van Wilderen brewery and distillery for a taste of their produce. Cost: €8, which includes refreshments.
Just for the kids
Take your children on a fruity treasure hunt! A 24km cycle route has been designed for “young knights and ladies”. The guidebook is packed with local legends and will take you to the castles of Rijkel, Brustem and Ordingen, and the chapel and gallows at Helshoven.
You are given the first piece of the puzzle and a key to unlock the first treasure chest you discover, but after that it’s up to you to find the other treasures along the way. It’s free for children, but Mum or Dad will have to cough up €4 for the instructions.
Visit a fruit auction
The Belgische Fruitveiling (Belgian Fruit Auction) is the largest organisation of fruit growers in Belgium. This co-operative has 1,500 members and a turnover of around €145 million per year. Its headquarters are in Sint-Truiden, and there are branches in Glabbeek, Zoutleeuw and Hannut. It deals mainly in apples, pears, strawberries, cherries and other berries, as well as some vegetables. Its quality labels are Truval, Mega Truval and Sira.
If you want to discover how the Belgian Fruit Auction works, then now’s your opportunity. Sign in at Montenakenweg 82 in Sint-Truiden every Thursday in April at 11.00 for a free tour of the facilities.
Visit a fruit farm
Many Haspengouw fruit farms are open during April and would be delighted to give you a free tour of their facilities – and invite you to buy some of their products. One such place is Domein Truilingen, where Veerle and Piet will show you around their ecologically responsible fruit farm and demonstrate how they convert their apples and pears into Porreye and Pipo organic juices. Free tours take place every Wednesday in April. Register at email@example.com
Unless otherwise indicated, registration for all activities is at the Sint-Truiden tourist office.