Art, Sand, Sun, and a whole lot of fun

Art, Sand, Sun, and a whole lot of fun

Close your eyes and picture a sand sculpture. Did your mind drift to being on vacation and building a small sand castle on the beach with plastic molds? Ask someone in Clearwater, Florida, to describe a sand sculpture to you and it is likely that they will start by mentioning the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival. The Festival brings in sculptors from around the world to create 3-D works of art from packed sand.  The festival takes place in the middle of Clearwater Beach next to Pier 60. The sculptures are housed in a 21,000 square foot tent on the beach using over 1,000 tons of sand.  Festival visitors are encouraged to kick off their shoes and feel the sugar white sand between their toes as they view the incredible works of art.  

The sand sculptures at Sugar Sand Festival

At its inception Sugar Sand Festival was a small four-day event that has grown, in size and scale, welcoming more than 120,000 visitors in 2018. In 2019 Sugar Sand Festival will be a 17-day event happening from April 12th through the 28th.In addition to the sculptures the festival also hosts concerts on the beach, a fireworks display, buskers with a variety of acts, a cornhole tournament, sand sculpting classes and demonstrations, a giant sand box to play in, and much more.  Also, don’t forget to catch one of the amazing sunsets at Clearwater Beach while shopping for local handmade treasures at the Sunsets at Pier 60 Daily festival.


Sand Art, Not Plastic Molds

You won’t find molds among the tools that these artists employ, as these sculptures are unique one of-a-kind creations. To create their sculptures the artists layer sand then soak it with water before packing it down. The process is then repeated until the sculptors have a mound wide and tall enough to accommodate their artistic vision. The sculptors at Sugar Sand Festival use a wide range of tools including brushes and a variety of baking, dentist, utility, gardening and other tools. Many festival attendees are visually overwhelmed by the details and size of the sculptures. Generally, one trip through the sculpture tent is not enough; every trip through the tent will reveal new elements missed on previous trips. One of the most impressive parts of this festival is that the art is created and then recycled back to the beach in less than a month, making this one of the premiere temporary art installations in the world.

The theme for this year’s festival is “Sea the World, A Journey Around the Globe.” Clearwater Beach’s famous sugar sand will be transformed into sculptures of renowned destinations and prominent landmarks from around the world.

How Can I Attend?

Tickets for the 2019 Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit and Baystar VIP Lounge are available online now at Purchasing tickets online allows you to skip the line when visiting the exhibit. General admission to the sculpture exhibit will be $10 for adults, $8 for children 4-10 years old and free for children under 3 years of age. Tickets will also be $8 for those 60 and older, military personnel, police officers, firefighters and teachers. These discounted tickets will only be available at the gate with proper identification. The festival is a joint effort between Sunsets at Pier 60, a 501(c)3 organization and the City of Clearwater.

Don’t forget that the Jolley Trolley and the Clearwater Ferry are both great low stress ways to get to the festival, while spending time with your family and seeing all of the Clearwater sights.  

What’s New In 2019

  • Pro-Am Sand Sculpting Tournament | April 20 | 9 a.m to 5 p.m. | Registration required
  • Family Sand Sculpting Competition | Easter Sunday, April 21 | 2 p.m. | Free
  • 3 Daughters Brewery, a local brewery based in St. Petersburg, Florida will be the official craft beer of the festival and cider sponsor at the Shephard’s Sand Bar