Sandcastles: A New Kind of Sculpture?

What better way to test you (and your kids’) skills at sculpting than building the perfect sandcastle? At the beach, sand is free and sandcastles are relatively easy to build. The Guardian and Redbook even have step-by-step foolproof guides to building the perfect sandcastle, if you really want to impress the other beachgoers. To a southern Californian, these tips may seem obvious, but when you take a look at how many websites have sandcastle-building guides, it actually becomes quite apparent that sand is a tricky medium to work with. It doesn’t like to hold its shape like clay, and it’s difficult to stack or manipulate sand to form the shape you want. You really have to work at it to get the sand to do what you want.

But with enough practice, with or without following Internet guidelines, you just might get good enough to enter a sandcastle-building contest. You know the ones I’m talking about–where people legitimately build five-foot-high sand sculptures of Michelangelo’s David that somehow look just as good as the original and don’t collapse. The time and effort the entrants put into building sandcastles and sand sculptures parallels the effort put into more conventional, lasting pieces of art–except sandcastles are an ephemeral sort of sculpture. Which makes sandcastle-building (or sand sculpting, if you’re fancy) technically making art, and going to sandcastle-building contests like going to an outdoor, odd, free museum show.

Last year’s Point Reyes National Seashore Sand Sculpture Contest Adult/Family Group People’s Choice Award Winner: Entry #14: “Woolly Mammoth” by the Garriott family. c/o

And even though it’s almost August, there are still a plethora of sandcastle-building contests to choose from, whether you’re participating or admiring the pieces from the boardwalk. I mean, how often to you get to watch professionals making their own art? Even better news–lots of these contests also include art fairs and/or booths! (Adapted from lists on,, and


Long Beach Sand Sculpture Art & Music Festival. Granada Beach, Long Beach, CA, August 15-16, 2015. Sand sculptures, art, and music–what more do you need? More info here.


-US Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition. B Street Pier, San Diego, CA, September 4-7, 2015. What better way to spend Labor Day than at a weekend-long sandcastle-building and arts event? More info here

Sandcastle at San Diego’s US Sand Sculpting Challenge. c/o and Bill Pavlacka

-Point Reyes Annual Sand Sculpture Competition. Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, September 6, 2015. A perfect last hurrah of summer, this contest is mostly amateur-based, which is good news for most of us! More info here

-55th Annual Sandcastle Contest. Carmel, CA, October 4, 2015. This small town hosts a big sand sculpting competition. More info here .

-LEAP’s 32nd Annual Sandcastle Contest. San Francisco, CA, October 10th, 2015. Sandcastle-building for a good cause: the event, though free to the public, raises money for LEAP, an arts-in-education program *cough cough* GO *cough*. More info here.


-Taft Beach Sandcastle Contest. Taft Beach, Lincoln City, OR, August 8, 2015. Not as huge as Oregon’s biggest sandcastle contest, Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, the Taft Beach Sandcastle Contest takes place at beautiful Taft Beach and attracts a smaller crowd. More info here.

-Sand in the City at Hands On Children’s Museum. Olympia, WA, August 22-23, 2015. Family-friendly arts and sandcastle festival. Oh yes. More info here.

Sandcastle Days. South Padre Island, TX, October 2-4th, 2015. Apparently, this is the “qualifying event for the World Championships of Sand Sculpting.” Also features art booths! More info here.

Holiday-themed art from the Fort Myers Beach Sand Sculpting Championship. c/o

American Sand Sculpting Championships. Fort Myers Beach, FL, November 20-29, 2015. Apparently, this is the big one, where champions are made. Or something like that. More info here.

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