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These spectacular sand sculptures will blow you away

Sand sculptures

<p>Courtesy of Sanding Ovation Masters Cup</p>

Courtesy of Sanding Ovation Masters Cup

Sand-sculpting festivals and competitions are a big deal, with imaginations running wild to shape and mold intricate creations, so we've listed some of the major events across the US. Whether you want to browse the jaw-dropping works of art or are considering entering on an amateur, semi-pro or even master sculptor level, get ready to feel inspired by checking out some of the best images of sandcastles in America.

Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival, Massachusetts

<p>Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock</p>

Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

Competitive sand sculpting takes place at the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival, held on the sands overlooking Massachusetts Bay. Some of the world’s best sand sculptors converge at the beach, just north of Boston, during the annual event to compete for cash prizes.

Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival, Massachusetts

<p>Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock</p>

Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

This free event draws in crowds in their masses, with roughly one million people taking in the sculptures over the course of three days. It’s not all about sandcastles, though – there’s also the rest of the three-mile (4.8km) beach to enjoy as well as entertainment and food.

Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic, New Hampshire

<p>Sean Donohue Photo/Shutterstock</p>

Sean Donohue Photo/Shutterstock

Every year, 200 tons of imported sand is dropped onto Hampton Beach for pro-sculptors to get to work. Among the entrants in 2022’s Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic was Abe Waterman, the 2021 winner, although his hopes of taking home the title yet again came to a dramatic end when his sculpture collapsed with just minutes to go...

Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic, New Hampshire

<p>Sean Donohue Photo/Shutterstock</p>

Sean Donohue Photo/Shutterstock

Melineige Beauregard took home the People’s Choice Award (again) for her two-sided sculpture depicting life and death. While sculpting starts at the beginning of the month (usually June), following the awards ceremony there’s a fireworks display and the entire site is illuminated for night-time viewing.

American Sand Sculpting Championship Festival, Florida

<p>Marianne W. Dent/Shutterstock</p>

Marianne W. Dent/Shutterstock

We love this fierce sculpture from the American Sandsculpting Championship Festival in 2015. Held on Fort Myers Beach, it’s the largest event of its kind in the US. Over a thousand tons of sand is used on this seven-mile (11km) stretch of beach and it’s thanks to its consistency that makes it ideal for sculptors as it’s not too wet nor too dry.

American Sand Sculpting Championship Festival, Florida

<p>Marianne W. Dent/Shutterstock</p>

Marianne W. Dent/Shutterstock

Usually held every November, sculptors from all around the world head to this renowned sand sculpting competition which takes place over the course of a week. There’s also live music, demonstrations and ‘Quick Sand’ timed competitions.

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, Oregon

<p>LHBLLC/Shutterstock</p>

LHBLLC/Shutterstock

While it took a year out in 2022, this sandcastle contest has humble origins. It all started in 1964 when a tsunami isolated residents until a new bridge over the Elk Creek was built and has grown to become one of the largest sandcastle contests on the US West Coast. Divisions range from kids to adults and only natural materials from the beach can be used, so creativity truly flows freely.

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, Oregon

<p>Mitchell Friedman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Mitchell Friedman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Creations on Cannon Beach include the likes of igloos, crabs and turtles (and a lot of good effort). You're likely find the quintessential sandcastle, albeit with incredible artistic detail, too. The contest usually runs from June to September.

SandSations, Washington

<p>sc_images/Shutterstock</p>

sc_images/Shutterstock

Stunning sand creations of all themes come to life at SandStations. Held on Long Beach and Lesson Beach, this free event usually takes place in July although it depends on the weekend with the best tide.

 

SandSations, Washington

<p>FlipMyLid Photography/Shutterstock</p>

FlipMyLid Photography/Shutterstock

The four categories are Family, Novice, Intermediate and Master, making it a truly fun family day out, whether you’re competing or spectating. Competitors must only use natural sand and beach materials, and alongside these public works of art are lessons from master sculptors who share their top tips and techniques.

 

The American Institute of Architects Sandcastle Competition, Texas

<p>Ed Uthman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Ed Uthman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Expect nothing but tip-top sand sculptures on Galveston’s East Beach. This ultra-organized sandcastle competition sees architectural firms work non-stop for five hours to achieve their sandy visions. In 2022 they even added an extra viewing day so there was more time to marvel at these meticulous wonders.

The American Institute of Architects Sandcastle Competition, Texas

<p>Ed Uthman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Ed Uthman/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Sculptures are judged on their artistic execution, technical difficulty and carving technique – there’s certainly no scope for crumbled castles here. With architectural firms taking part, of course there’s pristine planning and excellent execution. Previous entrants recreated Mexico’s stepped-platform Chichén Itzá, a Mario Kart-themed ‘Sand Prix’ and a grisly ‘Nursery Crimes’.

Sandcastle Days, Texas

<p>David Pike/Shutterstock</p>

David Pike/Shutterstock

Sandcastle Days has been running for 33 years and takes place on South Padre Island, a tropical oasis off the southern tip of Texas. Can you imagine a more idyllic place to build sand sculptures? This free event also puts on live music, art booths and kid-friendly activities like water slides.

Sandcastle Days, Texas

<p>Liza Lagman Sperl/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</p>

Liza Lagman Sperl/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Usually taking place in early October, watch sculptors get to work on creations like the sealife-inspired sculpture pictured here, or take part in their amateur competition which usually commences on the penultimate day. Divisions are for kids, families, groups and solo artists, so there’s plenty of scope to unleash your imagination.

 

Siesta Key Crystal Classic, Florida

<p>semyon lorberg/Shutterstock</p>

semyon lorberg/Shutterstock

Early- to mid-November sees the Siesta Key Crystal Classic take over one of America’s most-loved beaches. This international sand sculpting festival welcomes master sculptors from around the world to create a myriad of pieces, like this one pictured of a man stood in front of an incredible building.

Siesta Key Crystal Classic, Florida

<p>Ken Schulze/Shutterstock</p>

Ken Schulze/Shutterstock

There’s a free trolley bus service to and from Siesta Key Village and Turtle Beach and, with lessons and demonstrations, live bands and amateur competitions, it makes for a fun day out. Pictured here is a sculptor painstakingly creating a rose using basic tools like trowels.

Sun & Sea Festival Imperial Beach, California

<p>Port of San Diego/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Port of San Diego/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

This summer lovin’ festival celebrates San Diego’s sand sculpting community with local teams competing over a two-day period. Visitors can watch the artists in action but it’s the judging on the final day that’s the best time to see them in all their glory, before the awards ceremony on Pier Plaza.

Sun & Sea Festival Imperial Beach, California

<p>Port of San Diego/Flickr/CC BY 2.0</p>

Port of San Diego/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

On one of the two mornings children can have a go in the Kids ‘n Kastles competition in Dune Park and on the first night there’s a Sandcastle Ball with beer and tacos included. Pictured here is a locomotive train billowing out of a tunnel.

Blue Water SandFest, Michigan

<p>Courtesy of Blue Water SandFest and The Sand Lovers</p>

Courtesy of Blue Water SandFest and The Sand Lovers

Every early August, the Blue Water SandFest takes over the shores around Port Huron for a three-day beach extravaganza. Kids, amateurs and pros battle it out in Michigan’s largest sand sculpting festival to show off their skills.

Blue Water SandFest, Michigan

<p>Courtesy of Blue Water SandFest and The Sand Lovers</p>

Courtesy of Blue Water SandFest and The Sand Lovers

Once you’ve checked out the artworks, there are free sculpting lessons that all the family can get stuck into, or watch the ultimate ‘sculpt off’ as two sculptors compete in just 10 minutes to create whatever the audience chooses. There’s also a range of live music as well as tours of the nearby lighthouse.

Singing Sands Festival, Indiana

<p>Courtesy of Singing Sands Sand Sculpting Festival and The Sand Lovers</p>

Courtesy of Singing Sands Sand Sculpting Festival and The Sand Lovers

Brand-new for 2022, Singing Sands Festival took place on the beautiful lakefront of Washington Park Beach in Michigan City. There are three categories to enter: amateur, semi-pro and masters.

Singing Sands Festival, Indiana

<p>Courtesy of Singing Sands Sand Sculpting Festival and The Sand Lovers</p>

Courtesy of Singing Sands Sand Sculpting Festival and The Sand Lovers

The festival takes place over three days in early June and sees sand sculptors from across the world get to work to create pieces like the greedy dragon pictured here. As well as an awards ceremony on the final day, there’s also demonstrations, live music and timed competitions spread across the rest of the weekend.

Circles in the Sand, Oregon

<p>Nature's Charm/Shutterstock</p>

Nature's Charm/Shutterstock

The mesmerizing Circles in the Sand have appeared at Face Rock Viewpoint in Bandon, Oregon since 2014, when artist Denny Dyke first began creating the labyrinths at low tide. Volunteers join him to create intricate 'dreamfields' over a period of two hours and when the work is finished people can follow the sandy pathways before the tide washes them away.

Circles in the Sand, Oregon

<p>Nature's Charm/Shutterstock</p>

Nature's Charm/Shutterstock

Visitors can see the ephemeral artworks generally between May and August. In 2022 they launched a shuttle service which provide free lifts from the Bandon Community Center to Face Rock Wayside, and are also dog-friendly.

Neptune’s International Sand Sculpting Championship, Virginia

<p>Courtesy of Neptune Festival</p>

Courtesy of Neptune Festival

World-class talent flocks to Virginia Beach Oceanfront for this stellar sand sculpting competition. Sculptors can enter either solo or in teams, with 2022’s entrants spanning USA, Lithuania and South Korea. In just three days these pro-sculptors create marvelous creations, like this captivating close-up pictured here.

Neptune’s International Sand Sculpting Championship, Virginia

<p>Courtesy of Neptune Festival</p>

Courtesy of Neptune Festival

The works of art are housed in a tent (which is wheelchair accessible) from morning to night and generally takes place between the end of September and early October. Visitors can also attend free ‘sand clinics’ where they’ll get hands-on with their own creations, and all tools are provided.

Texas SandFest, Texas

<p>Courtesy of Texas SandFest and Kastle Kelley of Kastle Photography</p>

Courtesy of Texas SandFest and Kastle Kelley of Kastle Photography

What started as a small local competition in the 1990s has grown into a world-renowned festival that brings tens of thousands of visitors to Port Aransas over the course of three days. The most recent Texas SandFest was in April 2023 and pictured here is Abraham Lincoln with his head in his hands.

Texas SandFest, Texas

<p>Courtesy of Texas SandFest and Kastle Kelley of Kastle Photography</p>

Courtesy of Texas SandFest and Kastle Kelley of Kastle Photography

While here you’ll see master solo and duo and semi-pro sculptors create pieces of animals, complex buildings and well-known figures with stencil-like details like the piece pictured here. They also raise funds for local charities and scholarships for high school students.

Sanding Ovations Sand Sculpture Competition, Florida

<p>Courtesy of Sanding Ovation Masters Cup</p>

Courtesy of Sanding Ovation Masters Cup

The Sanding Ovations Sand Sculpture Competition brings together eight master sculptors from North America who create works of art using nothing but water, sand and their imagination. Mind-boggling pieces like the one pictured here can be found on Treasure Island's beach.

Sanding Ovations Sand Sculpture Competition, Florida

<p>Courtesy of Sanding Ovation Masters Cup</p>

Courtesy of Sanding Ovation Masters Cup

The competition and main viewing time takes place over a four-day weekend in late November, but for this year they've also put on an encore where visitors can return the following weekend. If weather permits, the sculptures remain on the beach until January.

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