For those who know about SandFest, they can’t wait for April every year in Port Aransas. For those who haven’t experienced it yet, here are 7 things to know about SandFest, the wildly-popular beach festival where creative sculptors craft amazing, temporary art on the sand.
1. SandFest is a large 3-day sand sculpture competition on the beach.
There’s master duo, master solo, semi-pro and amateur levels. The sculptors work all weekend to perfect their sandy creations and judging ends on Sunday, so don’t arrive Friday and expect to see fully-completed sculptures.
Stay for the weekend in Port Aransas and see the sand-sculpting process, talk to the sculptors and enjoy the festival food and entertainment. Every day, the sculptors are battling against nature to craft their creative sculptures, so each day they may look slightly different.
2. Reserve your rental early.
Make your rental home/condo/hotel reservations and your beach golf cart rental reservations as early as possible (like months in advance, if possible). They will sell out.
Do not wait until the day SandFest begins, because you’ll be out of luck and have to walk farther than you think in flip flops.
3. Head to the beach early.
SandFest draws crowds of 10,000+ people to beach markers 9-13ish and parking is always a challenge. The least-crowded time to enjoy SandFest is before lunchtime.
By arriving early, you’ll get the best on-the-beach parking in the SandFest lot, and see all of the sand sculptures up close (take great photos with a beach-proof camera) before the crowds arrive to the festival. The afternoons get even busier and car traffic will back up onto the access roads, so plan to arrive early and use the free shuttles.
4. Bring cash.
Let me say that again, BRING CASH for buying your entry wristband, shopping the vendors and food trucks. There will be numerous tents set up for shopping for jewelry, arts & crafts, clothing, furniture, souvenirs & plenty of food options as well.
There may be an ATM near the festival entrances, but they’re always in high demand and they have been known to run out of money. Be prepared with small bills and you’ll avoid the ATM line (and the frustration).
5. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
As simple as this tip sounds, walking for a few MILES on the beach (and back to find your car or beach cart) in the mid-day sun means a lot of steps in hot sand. Be sure your footwear can get you there, and back.
6. Wear sunscreen.
Every year, I see festival-goers in town at the end of the weekend with painful sunburn lines that likely came from spending the day at SandFest.
Whether you’re young or old, fair skinned or dark complected, you need to wear sunscreen at SandFest (my favorite is the Sun Bum face stick).
There’s very little to no shade (except under the music tent) and likely nowhere on the beach to buy sun protection. Be sun-smart and protect your skin with sunscreen (and bring extra travel-size sunscreen to reapply during the day).
7. It’s for a great cause.
SandFest proceeds benefit local Port Aransas charities and provide scholarships for Port Aransas high school students. Your attendance and support directly benefits the Port Aransas community and local organizations.
In 2019, the Texas SandFest awarded $355,000 to local community groups, like Port Aransas HS Scholarships, Port Aransas EMS, Port Aransas Art Center, Helping Hands Food Pantry, and many more. In a small city like Port Aransas, that amount is hugely appreciated and immediately put to good use in the community.
So make plans now to head to Port Aransas this April (and every April) for the annual beach festival that has everyone left in amazement. SandFest 2020 will be April 17-19 and the city will be packed with avid beach-goers ready to enjoy the warmer temperatures. Hope to see you there.
To learn more about the annual SandFest in Port Aransas, visit www.texassandfest.org