AIA Sandcastle Competition

For the 33rd year, thousands will descend on Galveston for the annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sandcastle Competition. Previously a one-day event, families crowded the beach for this free event to be wowed by these amazing creations over the course of a single afternoon. Now, for the first time, the sandcastles will be preserved overnight so folks can enjoy the beauty and fun on Sunday, too!

On Saturday, August 24, the fun kicks off when more than 60 teams will design, build and sculpt the sandcastle of their dreams, all in hopes of bringing home the prestigious Golden Bucket Award! Sculptures are judged based on several criteria, including technical difficulty, originality, and artistic execution.

Teams will also compete in categories like:

  • Best Traditional Castle
  • Kidtastic: Fables & Folklore
  • Best Sports
  • Most Houston-centric
  • Best Science Fiction
  • Tallest Standing
  • Best Architectural Icon

But it’s not just about the sandcastles. Teams, who spend months brainstorming ideas and sketching out ideas before they even hit the beach, can also be recognized as the public’s favorite, or for best team signage or best team t-shirt design.

And new this year, visitors can also see the sandcastles on Sunday! The Galveston Park Board will be hard at work helping teams preserve their works of art overnight so even more people can enjoy them the following day.


Competition Schedule

If you’re planning to watch the live competition, you’re encouraged to arrive at East Beach around 9 a.m. on Saturday. While the event itself is free, parking at East Beach is $15 (cash only). Here’s what to expect for the rest of the day:

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Teams do their magic!

1 to 3:30 p.m. – Public votes for their favorite sandcastle

3 to 4:30 p.m. – Esteemed panel of judges evaluates the works of art

4:30 p.m. – Awards Ceremony begins

You can see all the details here on their website.


Get In On The Fun with Sandcastle Lessons

In addition to seeing the magnificent sandcastles up close and personal, there’s also an opportunity to get in on the action. On Sunday, August 25, sandcastle lessons will be offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. near the East Beach Pavilion. You’re encouraged to bring your own shovels and buckets, but some other supplies will be available on site. No registration required – just show up ready to get your hands dirty and build something cool!

When you’re done, be sure to check out some of the other cheap and free things to do in Galveston.

East Beach is located at 1923 Boddeker Road, Galveston, TX 77550.

Click here for all the details about the sandcastle building competition!


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