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Kids aren’t the only ones who love building sandcastles at the beach. Many professional sandcastle artists compete at annual events that allow them to show off their skills and creative talents. Amateurs and newcomers are welcomed at many of these contests to join in and challenge the pros. Attending one of these events will blow your mind if you haven’t been to one before. It’s amazing to see what can be created from nothing more than beach sand and water. Event dates change each year so consult their websites for current information.

Here are the California beaches that host these sand sculpting events sorted from south to north.

Imperial Beach City Beach, South San Diego County

  • Event: Sun & Sea Festival – Kids N’ Kastles
  • Many events including castles by kids and masters
  • When: July
  • For festival dates and times visit the festival website

Broadway Pier, San Diego

  • Event: U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition
  • A serious competition of some of the world’s best sand sculptors
  • When: Labor Day Weekend every year
  • More info at their website

Oceanside Pier Beach, North San Diego County

  • Event: Oceanside Sand Art Contest
  • Newer annual event put on by the Oceanside Museum of Art
  • When: Early September
  • See museum website for dates and times

San Clemente Pier Beach, South Orange County

  • Event: San Clemente Ocean Festival Sand Sculpting Competition
  • Many different events going on
  • When: July
  • For info on the event, team sizes, dates, registration see their website

Corona Del Mar State Beach, Newport Beach

  • Event: Annual Corona Del Mar Sand Castle Contest
  • Amateur and pro-am sand castle builders can join in
  • When: Usually held in early October
  • For this year’s date and times visit the event’s Facebook Page

Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance

  • Event: International Surf Festival Sandcastle Design Contest
  • Multi-day event in the Los Angeles area
  • When: Late July / early August
  • To see the host city, dates, and times visit the festival website

Carmel City Beach, near Monterey

  • Event: Annual Sandcastle Contest
  • A family-friendly gathering on City Beach south of 10th Street
  • When: September
  • See the city website for more info on the event and upcoming dates

Capitola Beach, near Santa Cruz

  • Event: Capitola Beach Festival
  • New annual event replacing the popular Begonia Festival
  • When: Late September
  • For dates and times of the event visit the city association site

Sharp Park Beach, Pacifica

  • Event: Pacific Coast Fog Fest Sand Sculpture Magic
  • Annual event with no contests, just pro sculptures on display
  • When: Late September
  • For dates and times of the event visit the event website

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

  • Event: Leap Annual Sandcastle Contest
  • Long running event put on by Leap Arts in Education
  • When: October or November
  • See the Leap website for details

Robert Crown Memorial State Beach, San Francisco Bay, Alameda

  • Event: Annual Sand Castle & Sand Sculpture Contest
  • A long-running event in the East Bay Area
  • When: Held in early June
  • For information on this see the city website

Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County

  • Event: Point Reyes Annual Sand Sculpture Contest
  • A large event hosted for years by the NPS and non-profit association
  • When: Late August or September
  • Long drive so bring food and drinks. No dogs allowed.

Doran Beach, Bodega Bay

  • Event: Castles and Kites Event
  • Annual celebration for local and visiting families
  • When: May
  • See the county parks website to view their events calendar

Manila Dunes Recreation Area Beach, near Eureka and Arcata

Crescent City Harbor Beach, Northern California

  • Event: Sand Castles By The Sea
  • Held right on Crescent City Harbor
  • When: June or July
  • To see dates and times for this event check the county website