Sandcastle Festivals & Contests – U.S. Sand Sculpting Competitions All Levels

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If you’ve never attended sandcastle festivals or contests, oh my are you in for a treat. Even the amateur creations are dazzling and go way beyond the simple sandcastle. The master sculptor competitions are absolutely stunning.

Sandcastle Festivals & Contests

Festival or Contest?

What’s the difference between a “festival” and a “contest”? Typically a contest is simply that, competitors vying for first place in a sand sculpting event. By definition a festival is built around a contest but also includes a huge variety of other activities, food, and entertainment.

That said, these days many of the serious sand sculpting contests actually fit the definition of a festival. Check details before you go, but in most cases you’ll find lots to do in addition to watching the fascinating work of amateur, advanced amateur, and master sand sculptors.

Also be sure to follow the event links provided to see the most up-to-date information. Every effort has been made to provide accurate descriptions here, but specifics are subject to change from year to year. Even dates of annual events may be changed due to unforeseen issues or various other reasons.

Sand Sculpture

Sandcastle Festivals & Contests in the U.S.

Items in the following list are grouped by month according to when they usually occur.

  • Texas Sandfest
    Port Aransas, Texas – April

    Largest native-sand sculpture competition in the U.S. 3-day event with master and semi-pro sculptors plus arts/crafts/retail booths, kid’s activities, food, and live music.

  • Sugar Sand Festival
    Clearwater, Florida – April

    A massive 17-Day event featuring world-renowned sand sculptors. Festival entertainment includes free sculpting classes, live music, and fireworks plus all the fun of Pier 60 Park.

  • Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest
    Cannon Beach, Oregon – June

    This one-day event is all about the sand. It includes a masters competition (by invitation only), as well as open contest divisions for all ages plus small and large groups. In addition to sand, teams may use any natural materials found on the beach but nothing brought in or artificial.

  • Turtle Sand Sculpture
  • Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic
    Hampton Beach, New Hampshire – June

    This 3-day event is a master competition with a $25,000 grand prize. The event is lighted for viewing at night for a number of days after the event. There is a fireworks display, but the main focus here is only the competition itself.

  • Sun & Sea Festival Sandcastle Competition
    San Diego, California (Imperial Beach City Beach) – July

    2 day event with master sculptors and the “Kids N’ Kastles” children’s team competition. Also enjoy live music during the weekend.

  • Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Competition
    Birch Bay, Washington – July

    One day event for amateur competition, open to individuals or teams of family members, business employees, schools or other groups. Also enjoy food, vendors, live music, and other activities.

  • Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival
    Revere Beach, Revere, Massachusetts – July

    3 Day festival of sand sculpting, food trucks and vendors, entertainment, and fireworks. No competition details specified, but this appears to be strictly a master level competition. To see what I mean, check out this brief video from the 2022 competition:

  • Wildwood Crest Sand Sculpting Festival
    Wildwood, New Jersey – July

    One day event for amateur and semi-pro competitors (anyone can enter). Also features beach games and live music.

  • Sandsations
    Long Beach, Washington – July

    Not much information is offered about this annual event, but you can click the link and follow the Facebook page for updated information. Online photos from the competition are amazing.

  • Blue Water Sandfest
    Port Huron, Michigan – July-August

    The only sand sculpting competition in Michigan. 3 day festival with food, live music, lessons, demonstrations, giant kids sandbox and many other activities. Amateur events plus master sculptors from USA and beyond.

  • AIA Sandcastle Competition
    Galveston, Texas – August

    2 day event with amazing creations by all amateur sculptors. Some of the awards include Best Science Fiction, Best Sports and Houston-centric, Best Architectural Icon, and the grand prize Golden Bucket. Snack bar, food trucks, and umbrella rentals available. Here’s a video from the 2021 event:

  • U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge
    San Diego, California (Broadway Pier) – September

    Due to severe covid lockdowns, this event will not be held again until 2023. In the past this has been a major world master competition with a full complement of festival activities including food, vendor booths, world famous entertainment, and family friendly activities. Click the link to check for details of next event.

  • Sand Castle Days
    South Padre Island, Texas – September-October

    Amateur and master competition that also features food, live music, art booths, free sandcastle lessons, water slides, and lots of other family friendly activities.

  • International Sand Sculpting Championship
    Virginia Beach, Virginia – September-October

    This competition lasts 3 days with extended viewing days of the creations by master sculptors. Includes free teaching clinics. Sculpting competition is a part of the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival that includes a grand parade, 8K run, Neptune’s Atlantic Regatta, arts/crafts show and lots more.

  • Sanding Ovations
    Treasure Island, Florida – November

    Sand sculpting exhibition and competition by master sculptors from U.S. and around the world. View the creations and enjoy the beach food court and beer garden, arts and crafts, fireworks, and live music from local and nationally known bands.

  • Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship
    Fort Myers Beach, Florida – November

    Largest sand sculpting competition in the state (and one of the largest in the world). Includes amateur through master levels, competing for state and national championships.

  • Siesta Key Crystal Classic, International Sand Sculpting Festival
    Siesta Key, Florida – November

    4 day event with master competition, sculpting demos and lessons every day, live music, food vendors, and an amateur competition on one day. Also enjoy over 80 arts, crafts, and retail vendors.

How much do you really know about sandcastles?

How do sandcastles stay together? What’s the best kind of sand to use? Can you build them on a freshwater beach?

Are sandcastles illegal on some beaches?!

Get all the answers here:

Sandcastle or Sand Castle? – The Ultimate List of Sandcastle FAQs!

Strictly Amateur Sandcastle Competitions

This list includes only basic sandcastle building contests. There are no master competitions, just kids of all ages having fun building their best sandcastles. Most are 1-day events. Click on the website links for complete details.

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Sandcastle Festivals and Contests
Sandcastle Festivals & Contests

NOTE: In order to avoid any possible copyright violations, all images of sand sculpting on this page are either stock photos or my own personal photos.

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