Weekend Getaway

Port Aransas’s Texas SandFest Calls for a Beach Day

Prepare for food, fun, and sand—lots of it.

By Geneva Diaz April 3, 2023 Published in the March 2023 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The 25th Texas SandFest runs April 14 through 16.

Where on earth can you find a king gorilla head statue just a couple of yards down from a sleeping lion, which also happens to be next to a life-sized living room, taken over by monsters? 

Oh, and they’re all made out of sand? That would be at the Texas SandFest in Port Aransas, this year running April 14 through 16.

What’s now the largest native-sand sculpture competition in the U.S. began as a small, local competition in 1997. It’s since grown into an internationally recognized three-day annual event that draws notable sand sculptors and thousands of visitors from around the world each year to Port A.

Plan a four-hour road trip for this family-friendly festival, and prepare to have your mind blown. Stroll the beach and you’ll find thoughtfully made sand sculptures created out of literal tons of sand, a live music stage running all weekend long, local food vendors serving delicious bites, a beer garden for the adults, a “Lesson Mountain” for the kids to get in on the fun and learn how to build their own castles (all the tools are provided), a face painting station, and arts and crafts vendors selling apparel, jewelry, furniture, souvenirs, and more. 

It’s in the Masters’ Gallery where the really impressive sculptures for the hotly contested competition are created, where artists work solo or in teams of two, with most beginning their sculpture plans weeks—even months—before the event to determine use of forms and what tools are needed. Other sculptors go with the flow and create their work of art through inspiration. Regardless of the method, watching these sand sculptures come to life over the course of the festival as the artists carve out the impossible from a pile of sand will take your breath away.

Aside from the Masters’ Gallery, there’s also an amateur competition, which is just as mesmerizing. Amateurs work within age groups, and also as solo artists or in teams. Their time is limited, but it’s the first step in hopefully becoming a master sculptor at the next SandFest. Since the event is rain or shine, the artists have to work around the tides, and if the art gets a little wet, artists seldom worry, as it’s part of the challenge and fun. Overall, it’s one big party on the beach that you have to just experience for yourself.

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