For a few days in April, cherries burst into blossoms. In Belgium, the best spot to observe the sea of pink and white and to smell the sweet scent is in Hasselt, a city in the province of Limburg, around an hour drive east of Brussels. Approximately 225 cherry trees are in bloom in the Japanese Garden of Hasselt, the largest garden of this kind in Europe.
The garden was built in 1992 in the style of the 17th-century traditional gardens that exist in Japan. It was built to symbolise the friendship and connection between Hasselt and Itami, its sister town in Japan.
The garden is 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres). The main path itself is 1.2 km (0.75 mi) long and average visiting time is around 30 minutes to an hour. You may take your time and organise a small picnic there. It is better to schedule your visit for a weekday as it tends to get overcrowded on weekends.
The Cherry Blossom Festival takes place on the first Sunday of April. It is worth visiting if you are interested not only in contemplating nature but also in activities related to Japanese culture. The festival opening is always accompanied by theatre and taiko drum performances, stalls with traditional Japanese food, tea ceremonies, etc.