International Sand Sculpture Festival
Hailed as the largest sand sculpture festival in the world, FIESA draws talented sculptors from all over the world to Pêra, in Portugal’s Algarve. Over 30,000 tons of sand is used to build genuine works of art, which number more than 100 and cover an area of 15,000 square metres. This huge International Sand Sculpture Festival is held on the beach at Armação de Pêra, where thousands come to marvel at the impressive sand creations every year. This is extreme sandcastle building, and the kids will love it!
Portugal’s first major sand sculpture event
Organised by ProSandArt, the International Sand Sculpture Festival (or FIESA) first started in 2003 when sculptors came to the Algarve to build Portugal’s first major sand sculpture event. The festival’s taken place every year since, with sculptors given a different theme to inspire their creations. The first theme, Land of Dreams, saw sand crafted into sculptures that looked like fantasy machines, symbols of Portuguese culture, and even mythological characters.
More than 60 sculptors
The construction of these impressive sand sculptures takes plenty of time and a lot of hands! More than 60 artists from 25 countries arrive in Pêra and work on shaping and carving the fine golden sands into unique people, places and scenes in the month leading up to the festival.
12-metre high sculptures
Wander around the International Sand Sculpture Festival and you’ll see impressive sculptures that can reach up to 12 metres high and are shaped like everything from people to objects. Visit during the day and see all the details of the sculptures up close, or come when the sun sets and enjoy live music, theatres and even circus arts with sculptures illuminated with dramatic lighting. The festival also includes demonstrations on the sand carving technique, workshops, and guided tours.
Build sand castles
From taking selfies in front of the biggest sculptures to wondering how the sand sculptures stay in one piece, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained at the International Sand Sculpture Festival. Take the kids to the special area reserved for little ones, where they can make their own sand castles or be inspired to create their very own sandy work of art! There’s lots of other fun activities in the workshops to keep children busy too, while you join your own sand sculpture workshop or watch the documentary about FIESA.
Food to refuel
Take a break for lunch or enjoy a quick snack before you head back to your hotel at the festival’s bar and café. Expect high-quality, delicious food, including a great variety of sandwiches and homemade pasta. At night, you can grab a cocktail or two as you watch all the evening entertainment. Don’t forget to hit the souvenir shop before you leave either, as there’ s everything from T-shirts to postcards.
Only a quick 15-minute drive from the scenic fishing village of Albufeira, you can spend a few hours at the biggest sand-sculpture contest in the world before you head back for a dip in the pool. You can admire these amazing creations every day at the International Sand Sculpture Festival from mid-March to October, and kids under five enjoy free entry.