SandFest is the most popular event of the year in Port Aransas, held every April on the beach. Family-friendly activities at SandFest range from live music to shopping, and everyone’s favorite: the food trucks.
If you’re anxious to head to the beach in Port Aransas in the spring, considering attending SandFest in April to check out the impressive sand sculptures. From professional master-level sculptors to amateur and family groups, there’s a sand sculpting division for every level of expertise. When you arrive, there’s a few activities at SandFest that you simply shouldn’t miss.
1. Watching the masters begin
Head to SandFest when it begins on Friday to see the sand sculpting masters begin the foundation of their creation. Each sculptor begins with a staked off square plot and can add sand as needed.
It’s amazing to see how they stack and pack the sand to create tall mounds, then lighting begin spraying it with water before they begin carving. For those who geek out on the mechanics of sand sculpting, Friday is the day to see how it all begins.
And trust me, building a sand castle or large sand sculpture is not as easy as it looks.
2. Taking a photo of logo mountain
The massive mound of sand at the north end of the SandFest event is affectionately called logo mountain. Sponsor’s names and logos are carved into the sandy mountain by some of the participating sculptors.
It’s a great spot take a family photo to remember the weekend, so be sure to pack your good camera. If you’re a selfie pro, the logo mountain is always an Instagram-worthy spot (especially with the beautiful flags in the background).
3. Making your own sand sculpture
Spend an hour getting sandy yourself as you learn to create your own sandcastle at Lesson Mountain. Kids and adults are welcome to join in the fun on the beach.
After seeing what the pros are creating with sand, my kids couldn’t resist getting their hands into the sand to build their own creation. Bring your kids’ own sand shovel and bucket if you like, and don’t forget the sunscreen and a wide brim hat to shade them from the sun.
4. Enjoying live music under the tent
At SandFest, the large tent is located near the center of the event, between the amateur and pro sand sculptors. There’s live music going all day long and it’s a great shady spot to step out of the hot sun for a bit.
The music lineup is a lively mix of family-friendly music throughout the day. Check out the SandFest music schedule here.
5. Tasting treats from the food trucks
Food trucks are always a hit at SandFest, because walking on the beach makes you hungry. From burgers to barbecue sandwiches, pretzels to tropical fruit cups, there’s always a wide variety of food trucks to satisfy every appetite. Plan ahead to bring cash to speed up your order.
At the 2019 SandFest, this Johnsonville Sausage truck had a long line all afternoon. My kids couldn’t get enough of the fresh-squeezed lemonade, since it was a pretty hot day.
I always carry a reusable water bottle with me to the beach. I spotted someone last year at SandFest carrying their stainless steel Hydroflask water bottle with a shoulder strap and a paracord handle that I thought was a genius way to be hands-free for the day. Check it out here.
6. Getting the t-shirt
If you didn’t get a t-shirt, did it really happen? I always look for three vendor booths at SandFest to be sure I get a t-shirt. One of the most popular vendors for t-shirts is Get Dirty! Play In The Sand. You can preorder t-shirts and mugs online and pick at the event, since they typically sell out.
Another favorite of mine is Palm Republic, a local Port Aransas clothing line with a cool palm tree logo and a variety of shirts and colors.
And lastly, I like to support the conservation efforts on the island with a Keep Her Wild t-shirt. The t-shirts are typically sold for $25 at their SandFest booth, or can be found in town at the boutique named Roam. The Keep Her Wild t-shirt sales benefit the Port Aransas Conservancy.
7. Talking with the sculptors
You’ll find that many of the pros, or master sculptors, work with their headphones in. Maybe they prefer not to be distracted when they only have just a few days to sculpt their masterpiece, meaning they need to work quickly.
So if you catch the sculptors taking a break, feel free to ask questions. Most of the amateur division sculptors are local groups and families that are happy to share their inspiration and process with onlookers. This is one of my favorite activities at SandFest every year.
8. Taking beach selfies
Savor the sun, but stop and take a selfie. Seriously, who can resist taking a photo with the ocean and these amazing sand sculptures in the background? I love Port Aransas.
We all know that sand and phones are not a a good combination, so protect yours by not dropping it on the beach. When I go to SandFest, I wear a waist pack to hold my phone, cash, etc. Find my favorite one here.
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9. Voting for your favorites
The choice is yours and you get to choose which of your favorites sculptures should be the People’s Choice. Vote with your dollars at the edge of each sculptor’s sand plot and the winner is announced on Sunday at the judging.
The above sand sculpture of a Great Dane from the 2018 SandFest was by far one of my favorites!
10. Seeing the finished creation
Wow, the difference between the mound of sand these sculptors start with on Friday and the masterpiece they end up creating by Sunday is nothing short of amazing.
Before you leave town, go back to SandFest on the beach and see the fascinating level of detail that these artists weave into their final sculptures (like the wings on the above angel sculpture from the 2018 SandFest, fantastic!).
The beach in Port Aransas is THE place to be during SandFest every April. With good music, good food and hopefully good weather, there are plenty of activities at SandFest to keep you exploring the beach all day long.
April 17-19, 2020