Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Friday, July 23, 2010

10 Spectacular Sand Sculpting Festivals

See which U.S. beaches become artists' canvases every summer

By Brynn Mannino


While most people see summer as a chance for some fun in the sun, swimming and tanning aren't the only things going on at the beach. In fact, each year, artists from all over the globe meet in the sand to show off their sculpting skills—whether they're professional artists hoping to make it to the World Championship of Sand Sculpting come September or amateurs just in it for fun. WD decided to get in on the excitement and scoped out the biggest festivals across the United States.

Texas Sandfest

This Southern sand extravaganza, which runs in April and attracts 100,000 spectators, is a three-day competition hosted in Port Aransas, Texas. The competitors always bring their A game, since it’s a qualifying competition for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting. But the event isn't just for veterans: A one-day amateur showing attracts nearly 200 novices. Photo: "Time Frame" by Karen Fralich of Ontario, Canada; 1st place; courtesy of Kristie Woodworth.

Siesta Sand Sculpture Contest

Held in Sarasota, Florida, each May, this festival attracts nearly 40 entries per year. Host to some of the funniest categories, including Adult Humorous and Adult Miscellaneous, Siesta Key Beach is transformed into a canvas of comical artwork. Photo: "Siesta Fish" by Libby Bennet and Lara Hines of Sarasota, Florida; People's Choice Award and 2nd Place, Adult Humorous; courtesy of Anne Johnson.

Piccolo Spoleto Sand Sculpting Competition

Every year around Memorial Day (the exact date depends on the tide), Isle of Palms, South Carolina, puts on one of the largest festivals in the U.S. Attracting 64 teams this year, the event includes the Most Realistic and Best Architectural categories, inspired by one of the sponsors, the American Institute of Architecture. Photo: "Raining Cats and Dogs" by Jeff Mahaffey of Hanahan, South Carolina; Best in Show; courtesy of Will McElheny.

Beach Community Bank Fiesta Sand Sculpture Contest

Entries were low this year due to the oil spill, but the Pensacola, Florida–based sand sculpture competition still produced incredible results, made possible by its renowned white sand beaches. Open to professionals and amateurs alike, the festival takes place in early June, and garners about 50 entries each year. Photo: "Close Encounter" by Chuck and Tammy Kunze of Milton, Florida; 1st place; courtesy of Whitney Vaughan Fike.

Chamber Sand Sculpture Contest

Every June in Grand Haven, Michigan, approximately 40 teams and over 200 individuals get two hours to turn the Lake Michigan shoreline into an art exhibit. This year, to the delight of spectators, the Sand Castle category was added to the competition. Photo: "Jabba the Hutt" by Sand Carvers and Kevin DiMeglio of Grand Rapids, Michigan; 2nd Place, Family Category; courtesy of Jenna Paparella.

Nebraska Children’s Home Society’s Sand in the City

Sand in the City is an active charity that, through its annual sand sculpting event, helps nonprofits learn how to raise money. One such charity is Nebraska Children's Home, which transforms its parking lot each June with 350 tons of sand for the 12 teams of sculptors. Photo:“Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This” by Millard Drywall Service, led by Joe Kirkendall, Omaha, Nebraska; 1st Place; courtesy of Kathleen Al-Marhoon.

Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition

One of five World Championship qualifiers in the U.S, this New Hampshire–based competition has approximately 15 world-class master sculptors vying for $15,000 in prize money. Held in late June, the contest also boasts nighttime viewing hours, during which the awe-inspiring works are illuminated. Photo: "It's Not a Yolk" by Justin Garden of Grover, Massachusetts; 1st Place; courtesy of Greg Grady.

New England Sand Sculpting Festival

Held at Revere Beach in Revere, Massachusetts, every July, the NESSF, which hosts 10 artists annually, was originally the largest of its kind. According to the website, it is still regarded as a premiere event for sand sculpting thanks to national coverage by various media outlets, including Good Morning America, TODAY and The New York Times. Photo: "Selfish Trap" by Jonathan "Jobi" of Bouchard, Montreal, Canada; 1st place; courtesy of Adam Benoit, Celebrity Marketing, Inc.

Sandsations Sand Sculpture Contest

From mid to late July, Long Beach, Washington, hosts this unique festival, which boasts a slew of fun activities for spectators—including free sculpting lessons, a beach bonfire and the Sand Flea Pet Parade—while the 45 to 50 competitors create their magic. Photo: "Evolve" by Eric Hawley, Tacoma, Washington; courtesy of Becky Johnson..

American Sandsculpting Championship Festival

Held in Fort Meyers, Florida, every November, this competition sends its winner on to compete in the following year’s World Championships. Drawing in top master sculptors, the contest is free to all, but those who want a closer look must purchase VIP passes. Photo: "Mirage" by Thomas Koet of Melbourne, Florida; courtesy of Earl Quenzel with Quenzel & Associates.