You stand on the beach in Port Aransas, Texas. Even sitting, Abraham Lincoln towers over you, as strong and stalwart as the marble memorial in the nation’s capital. This version of the president, though, is made of sand—chief of state turned chief of sandcastles. You snap a photo and move down the beach to a pair of happily snoozing sand elephants, their leathery wrinkles becoming more defined with each flick of the sculptor’s tool. This is Texas SandFest, and this is your new family tradition.

Texas SandFest, one of the largest native-sand sculpture competitions in the USA, is traditionally held in April but this year will be October 15–17, 2021. Known internationally, Texas SandFest is a three-day event that draws renowned sand sculptors and visitors from around the world each year to the beaches of Port Aransas in appreciation of the exquisite craft that goes into sculpting massive art pieces made of sand.

Stroll through the festival and interact with artists to hear their sand-sculpting journeys, or bop your head to daily live music and shop for arts and crafts, apparel, jewelry, furniture, souvenirs, and more. Grab a drink at the beer garden and get a taste of the coast from local food vendors. Want to get your hands sandy? Stop by “Lesson Mountain” and have the pros show you how sand sculpting is done. Then, move on to the Masters’ Gallery, where the magic happens.

The Masters’ Gallery is where the competition sculptures are created, carved over the three-day course of the festival out of literal tons of sand. Lincoln, the elephants, larger-than-life sea turtles, and a multitude of others can be found in this area. Most solo sculptors or duo teams begin planning their sculpture weeks—even months— before the event. Other sculptors let the sand speak to them and create their art from inspiration of the moment. Regardless of method, watching the process over the course of the festival as these artists coax beauty from a pile of sand will take your breath away.

Anchor your new family tradition here in Port Aransas, Texas, with Texas SandFest. Book your trip now for October, or wait until April 8–10, 2022, when the festival returns to its usual dates. Better yet? Plan for both at texassandfest.org!

Here are some tips and tricks to do Texas SandFest like a pro:

  • Since the festival is immensely popular, you’ll want to plan with plenty of time. Book your stay and a beach cart early to make your trip as easy as the breeze.
  • A beach cart or the shuttle which runs from Roberts Point Park are the easiest ways to get to and from the festival.
  • The sculptures are progressive works of art, and you won’t want to miss seeing the final product, so plan to attend each day for the full experience!
  • Texas SandFest is a rain or shine event that works around the tides and all that Mother Nature has to offer, so come prepared.
  • While you’re in town, don’t miss out on all the things to do in Port Aransas! Stay for a week and try award-winning restaurants or enjoy live music.

Visit PortAransas.org/sandfest for more information.