No repeat: Flanders says 'Evanesco' to Harry Potter event

No repeat: Flanders says 'Evanesco' to Harry Potter event
Credit: Harry Potter experience

The controversial "Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience" held at a nature domain in Flanders will not be repeated, the region's Minister of Nature Zuhal Demir announced on Thursday.

Groenenberg domain in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, a few kilometres southwest of Brussels, was selected as the location to transform into a "magic, illuminated forest filled with wizarding wonders" from the celebrated Harry Potter and the spin-off Fantastic Beasts films. Now in its last week, it has already been confirmed the event will not return next year.

Although several hundred thousand fans visited the Hogwarts-themed nocturnal experience on a forest path "inhabited by magical creatures and sparkling with wonders", the attraction drew backlash from locals almost immediately after it opened.

Only fake owls

Many of the complaints pointed to the fact that the organisers did not sufficiently account for the impact to surrounding nature, as well as wider surroundings. Some locals noted that the bright lights used meant that real owls left the park.

The local council soon became involved and an administrative report was drawn up by the relevant environment departments in which breaches were identified.

Demir herself was criticised by residents and the local government for her approval of the event. Responding to the anger, she came out strongly against the event on Thursday. Future collaborations with the organiser were also ruled out.  

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The Flemish nature preservation agency Natuur en Bos was called on to better screen similar initiatives in the future. "The agency will also enter into dialogue with the local government and residents to define the management approach of the Groenenberg domain and avoid future problems," Demir concluded.

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