I have so many of these Storytelling posts in my concept posts, but they are a pain to write! Because it’s not just describing the experience, but I also always try to research it in detail, really look into why I liked it, what kind of storytelling it is and more. They take a lot of work!
So, Bilzen Mysteries. Bilzen is a town in Belgium, not too far from where I live. They have an old land command stronghold called Alden Biesen. After a huge fire almost destroyed the building in 1971, the complex was bought by the Belgian state and restored. Now it houses Bilzen Mysteries. During the day you can take part in “The Complot” and after nightfall it’s time for “The Story”. Both interactive stories will teach you about the history of the building, the region and our country.
Over the summer vacation, I took part in “The Story”, which started late at night, after sundown. As a group, you take part in the Mysteries, and each of you will be handed a tablet and headphones. Enjoy some pictures here:
Now, this is a year-long event, so I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but I do want to share my experience with it. So, you start out in the visitor’s centre, where you are handed your tablet and headphones. Immediately in the visitor’s centre, you need to aim your AR enhanced tablet forwards and a famous Belgian actor will set the scene for the story – in character of course. You then follow him and his contemporaries and discover the history of both the stronghold and the region. You visit the church and armoury, learn about rebellions and wars, you meet the rich and the poor, clergy and noblemen, beautiful people and even a ghosts. Finally the story ends at the great fire that destroyed most of the stronghold Alden Biesen.
Meanwhile, the AR enhanced tablet sucks you into a story and the scene is set further through a light and sound spectacle, ending with a huge laser show in the front yard. It was really magical and a very clever use of technology to bring history back to life!
I didn’t do “The Complot”, but I’ve been told it’s comparable to an escape room. Only you need to unravel the mystery of “Bilzen Mysteries” in your group. Basically, there has been an accident, and it’s up to the visitor to find out what happened and follow the clues. I didn’t experience it myself, and I wouldn’t want to spoil it anyway, but it should be quite fun and exciting! There’s an easier version to play with the entire family, or a more difficult version only for adults.
If you are ever in the neighbourhood, I definitely recommend it!