Lonely Planet Writer

Smurfs fans can visit the Smurfs village and take a virtual reality ride

This year, the Smurfs turn 60 and to celebrate, they have built their village in Brussels Expo, right next to the Atomium. The Smurf Experience offers a unique opportunity to plunge into the magical world of the little blue Belgian characters.

The Smurfs at 60. Image by Thierry Lechanteur

Holograms, virtual reality, magnifying sets and many special effects combine to create an immersive journey in a setting that is larger-than-life. The Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs in French) first came to life as an animation of human-like little elves in 1958, created by Belgian artist Peyo. There are over a thousand Smurf characters and their names illustrate their main trait, such as Lazy Smurf, Baker Smurf, Sloppy Smurf, etc.

The Smurf Experience in Brussels. Image by Ingrid Otto

This anniversary exhibition is spread out over more than 1500 square-metres between the Smurf village and the virtual reality ride. An adventure through mystical forests and mushroom-shaped houses makes for an ideal family activity. Becoming “as high as three apples”, visitors can talk to Smurfs, explore their habitat, fly on a stork’s back and even dance the Smurf dance. They are also invited to help Papa Smurf defeat Gargamel’s evil plans.

The Smurfs were created by a Belgian artist called Peyo. Image by Thierry Lechanteur

Next to being an entertaining expo, the Smurf Experience is also educational as it aims to spread the Smurfs’ values of tolerance, solidarity and friendship. Moreover, it strives to show visitors the importance of protecting the environment and introduce them to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The whole experience lasts about two hours and there may be some queuing for the virtual reality set. Entry for adults is €17 (US$20), teenagers €14 (US$16), children €11 (US$12) or a family ticket costs €52 (US$60).

Words: Analia Glogowski