California Festivals


California Sandcastle Festival Guide

Billions of grains of sand make up our California Beaches. Nearly every day of the year on some beach in California people are making sandcastles. Nature's perfect sculpting material requires a few simple tools -- even your hands will do! A bit of water to moisten the sand and a creative mind can make the time pass, spark the imagination into new ideas, theories and possibilities, and create a concrete object that you and others can look at and enjoy. Limited only by your mind, California beaches provide a playground for humans as the participate in sandcastle building.
Sandcastle - Sand Castle Festivals 2014

ALAMEDA Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest June 7, 2014, 9 a.m.

Robert Crown Memorial State Beach
Westline and Otis Drive
Alameda, CA

SUBJECT TO CHANGE: Annual Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest Registration is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. that morning at Robert Crown Beach. Viewing and judging of the masterpieces begin at 12 noon. Awards presented at 1 p.m. Categories for Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture include:
Ages 12 and Under
Ages 13 and Over

LONG BEACH  Great Sand Sculpture Contest August 16-17, 2014 

Granada Beach
1 Granada Ave.,
Long Beach, CA

Great Sand Sculpture Contest on Saturday  and Sundau! You can build your own sculp≠ture or just see the ones built by pro≠fes≠sion≠als as well as corporate and community teams. There will be arts and crafts ven≠dors, live music, and food on both days!

EUREKA  June 21, 2014, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Free to watch

1611 Peninsula Drive
Manila Beach Dunes Recreation Area
Manila, CA

Dig It! Grab your shovels and your friends and spend the day frolicking at the beach. Participation is encouraged, however, spectators are welcome, too. While you are enjoying your day at the beach, digging/watching, you will also learn what Friends of the Dunes is doing to conserve coastal habitats in our area. Final judging will be at 2pm and cash prizes will be awarded to best of show, most life-like, humor, fantasy, ingenuity, "judge's wild card" and a youth category for folks 16 and younger. Contact the Friends of the Dunes for more details on entering. Directions: From Eureka: Hwy 255 (the Samoa Bridge) head towards Manila and turn west on Pacific Avenue from Highway 255 to Peninsula Drive. From Arcata: Highway 255 west, right onto Peninsula Drive.

CARMEL  54th Annual Sandcastle    Sept. 2014 TBA
Carmel Beach
Scenic, south of 10th
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
(831) 620-2020 or

Annual Sandcastle contest held on Carmel Beach, Scenic south of 10th. Building starts at 8 a.m. Judging from 12 Noon to 2 p.m. Monterey Bay Chapter of the AIA is also involved,    Building at 8:00 AM; Judging from 12 Noon to 2:00 PM. Annual Sandcastle contest held on Carmel Beach, Scenic south of 10th. 

HUNTINGTON BEACH Sand Sculpture Contest September 14-15, 2013
Family Activities, Sporting Challenges and Competitive Events that include a Sand Sculpture Contest.

POINT REYES Sand Sculpture Contest at Drakes Beach August 31, 2014 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Drakes Beach
Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
(415) 464-5140
33rd Annual Sand Sculpture Contest at Drakes Beach on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend goes from 9 a.m. to  3 p.m.  This  family event invites the public to bring a picnic and spend the day!  Prizes awarded in each of several age and group categories. Free to participants and spectators.  Registration begins at 9  a.m. at the Ken Patrick Visitor Center. Judging begins at 12 Noon.  Prizes awarded. All ages at this free community event located at Drakes Beach. Categories include: Children (14 and under), Families, Adult Individuals, and Adult Groups. Three prizes will be awarded in each of those categories, along with prizes for the sculpture with the most recycled plastic included.  Prizes donated by the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. Dogs are NOT allowed on this designated swimming beach, and there is NO lifeguard on duty.

PACIFICA Fog Fest Sand Sculpture Contest September 27-28, 2014 

Palmetto at Highway 1
Pacifica, CA
(650) 355-8200

Annual Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest is a chance for your business, family, group or organization to use your creativity, have fun, enjoy the sun and build the sand castle of your dreams during the Pacific Coast Fog Fest. No experience is necessary and amateur teams are welcome. Family and friend teams, community organizations and school groups can enter the contest for a $25 donation. Business entries and sponsorships are $250 to $500 which will go to cover event expenses.  The number of Entries will be restricted. Entries will be considered on a first come basis once your entry form has been received and if you are a business once your fee is received. The contest starts at 11 am on Saturday and the structures must be finished by 5 p.m. that day. Winners are announced Sunday at 12pm Noon. The public can view the entries as they are being built and until the Fog Fest ends at 6 p.m. on Sunday when children are encouraged to take down the castles!

SAN FRANCISCO Ocean Beach LEAP Sandcastle Contest TBA

Ocean Beach
San Francisco, CA
(415) 512-1899 or

LEAP 30th Annual Sandcastle Contest  10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Teams of architects, engineers, contractors, designers, corporations and local elementary school students work together to build giant sand sculptures. The funds raised by teams and sponsors make it possible for Leap to continue to provide arts programs to Bay Area schoolchildren. Thousands of people attend Leapís annual Sandcastle Contest, which is free to the community. Celebrity judges evaluate the works of art.  More than 20 schools and 300 sponsors and advertisers participate. LEAP was created  in response to severe budget cuts in arts programs in California schools. Programs place professional teaching artists in classrooms to work with grades K-8. Every year, these educational programs--in music, dance, theatre, creative writing, visual arts, and architecture serve thousands of students in   elementary and middle schools throughout the Bay Area.

SAN DIEGO US Sand Sculpting Challenge and 3D Art Exposition August 30 - September 2, 2013

2014 tba

1140 North Harbor Drive San Diego, CA 92101  Time: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.  Venue: B Street Cruise Ship Terminal Pier
Hundreds of thousands have come each year to see master-class sculptors build beautiful 3-dimensional works of art. Now many of the world's finest artists will come to create the most amazing sculptures ever. Sand Sculptures Competition between 10 professional world masters carving sculptures are the highlight, plus other competitions - art and architecture - middle, high school and college levels 3-dimensional Art for the Home Leading California metal, stone and wood sculptors Designer clothing and jewelry 3D wall art Art for kids, handmade educational toys and much more Entertainment All Weekend Long Musicians Singers Dancers Storytellers Pirates Magicians The best of the buskers Kids activities Sand sculpture classes Sandbox Box-in-Box Hat-making and more

CORONA DEL MAR Sandcastle Contest  October tba

Sandcastle Contest  involves sandcastle building taken to a new level at the annual Corona del Mar Sandcastle Contest, where "seashore sculptors" have turned grains of wet sand into elaborate works of art for over 50 years. Thousands of sightseers descend on Corona del Mar State Beach to watch participants - ranging from novice to expert - construct more than 30 entries. View these creations for free as a spectator, or consider making your own for a minimal entrance fee.  Join thousands of spectators as the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Sandcastle Contest on the beach. Participants' skill levels range in a wide variety--from children to professional architects. Talented groups will compete for the winning title.  Register online...fees are as little as $30 for the team, and winning teams will receive prizes. 45 teams of 8 individuals is the maximum allowed to compete.

REDONDO BEACH Surf Festival Sandcastle Contest August 3, 2014  Surf Festival is July 30 - August 3, 2014

International Surf Festival is held at multi-sites along the coast of the three Beach Cities the weekend of July 31- August 4, 2013. Activities will include the L.A. County Lifeguard Championship, the International Bodysurfing Championship, a beach run, a volleyball tournament, a sandcastle building contest, the Fishing Derby and more. Contact the Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach Chambers of Commerce.

SAN PEDRO Family Sandcastle Building Day July tba

3720 Stephen M. White Drive
San Pedro, CA
(310) 548-7562

Family Sandcastle Building Day  10 a.m. - 3 p.m.  Pile some sand, add some water, do a little shaping and presto! Your very own sandcastle. Bring your little shovel, a bucket and come on down for some sand fun. This is a free event open to everyone.  Just bring a bucket, a shovel and your imagination. Water is provide. All castle styles are welcome: moats, draw bridges, spires, windows, turrets; let your imagination run wild, but most importantly, have a great time at the beach with family and loved ones. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture Kodak moments and your sandcastle handiwork. If you don't have beach building tools on hand, stop by the Aquarium Gift Shop for supplies. While you're there visit the Aquarium exhibit hall, which features 37 tanks containing the largest collection of Southern California marine life in the world and a touch tank that provides up-close encounters with local marine life.

BALBOA ISLAND Sand Castle Contest August 2, 2014

Ruby Beach
North Bay Front
Balboa Island, CA

Time: 9 - 10 a.m. Cost: Free.  Held at Ruby Beach on Balboa Island, Newport Beach, this event is small (as are its beaches) but mighty in fun. Kids are constantly building sandcastles on Balboa Island beaches so this special event offers an opportunity to let them compete. Bringing the Island community together, this event invites spectators and participants to enjoy a festive morning.

SAN CLEMENTE Ocean Festival Sand Sculpting Contest July 20, 2014 subject to change  (festival held July 19-20, 2014)

San Clemente Pier
Avenida del Mar
San Clemente, CA

Teams of up to 10 people each (20 spaces available) can compete in the following categories: Castles and Things, Creatures, Family or Open on Sunday. Grab your friends, family, co-workers & club members and come to the beach on Sunday. 

CARLSBAD Beach Fest Sand Sculpture June 14, 2014 

Carlsbad Beach Fest
Tamarack Beach

NOTE: This is not a sandcastle contest! Art Seaside: U.S. Open Champion Archisand continues to be the eventís featured artisan group, returning to create another gigantic sand sculpture to reflect the dayís theme. Other artists, from painters to authors, will display and demonstrate their works in support of the mission.

IMPERIAL BEACH Sun & Sea Festival tba

There is never a bad time for a Sandcastle Contest in California -- except after a rain, and since rain is not common along the south coast, you'll find the premier sandcastle competition hosted in Imperial Beach, San Diego County. This U.S. Open of Sandcastles in July attracts over 300,000 people annually.

NEWS: The Biggest Sandcastle Contest in U.S. calls it quits! In 2011 the U.S. Open of Sandcastles competition in Imperial Beach disbanded. Formed in 1980 as an all volunteer organization, it leaves a void in the sandcastle scene.1

The U.S. Open draws tourists and professional sandcastle builders from around the nation to create fabulous sculptures made out of nothing but sand. While this big event includes concerts, games, food vendors, crafts and booths and fun entertainment throughout, this is not the only sandcastle event in California.

City Contest web / contact
Imperial Beach Sand Castle US Open   
  Sand Castle Contest

Many sandcastle festivals we remember that have come and gone included a huge event in Seal Beach. During its operations, it was garnered national press and included massive sculptures made by pros. That event disbanded around 2004.  Seal Beach was ideal as Sandcastle headquarters when a professional sand sculptor declared the sand in Seal Beach was the best in the nation for created sculptures.

Contests do come and go, so there are no real guarantees that any of the events listed with continue through time but as of this writing, Corona del Mar, San Clemente, Carmel by the Sea and Bodega Bay all have sandcastle contests.

 Sandcastle building is a great activity for kids on vacation. Most beaches with concessions sell sandcastle building toys made out of brightly colored molded plastic. The kits usually include a small shovel and rake, and several molded shapes that look like castles. Other tools that builders use include a bucket of water, straws and fine carving knives. 

Sandcastle Tips

 Build a sandcastle near the water, but not too close. The waves will destroy your castle as the tides rise.

Dig a hole to the water where you'll find the sand is dark and moist.

Scoop wet sand onto the center of the area where you're building your castle. Work fast so the sand stays wet.

Build towers by forming and stacking sand patties about the size and shape of thick pancakes.

Place larger patties on the bottom, and gently shake the patties from side to side as you pile them so that the sand settles.

Seal your towers by gently pouring water over them or spraying with a spray bottle filled with water.  Wet sand is easiest to work with.


City Event -Alameda Sand Castle & Sculpture Contest - June  Carmel Great Sandcastle Contest - September Corona del Mar Annual Sand Castle Contest - October Long Beach Great Sand Sculpture Contest - August Redondo Beach Sand Sculpting Contest - June San Clemente Sand Sculpture Contest San Francisco Sandcastle Classic / Ocean Beach - October Santa Barbara Santa Barbara Sand Castle Festival - Sept.

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