27th Annual AIA SandCastle Competition

 27th Annual AIA SandCastle Competition

GALVESTON- For over two decades teams of architects, designers, and engineers have taken their tools to East Beach in Galveston for one of the world’s largest sand castle competitions. On Saturday, June 1, 2013 Galveston Island will celebrate the 27th annual AIA SandCastle Competition on East Beach. Everyone is invited to come see how piles of sand magically transform into imaginative sculptures!

This year teams have their eyes and shovels set on winning the prestigious Gold Bucket Award. Firms begin months in advance generating ideas, developing designs, and assigning duties. On the day of the event the teams, stretched along the beach front, meticulously sculpt their piles of sand and work non-stop for five hours.
The judging of all sculptures is rated on originality of concept, artistic execution of the concept, technical difficulty, carving technique, and utilization of the site. In addition to the Gold Bucket, best team t-shirt design, best team signage, best costume, and public favorite.

Awards are given in 8 different themed categories:

1.  That’s Entertainment (Best theme with movies, TV, commercials, etc.)
2.  Let the Games Begin (Best theme with a sport or sporting event)
3.  Stars and Stripes (Most Patriotic theme)
4.  Most Complex (Most attention to detail and artistry)
5.  Best Traditional (The most traditional sandcastle)
6.  Best Architectural (Best sculpture relating to architecture)
7.  Most Hilarious (The funniest, most comical)
8.  Most Lifelike / Realistic (Most realistic rendition of a person, plant, animal, mineral, or object)
At the end of the day, everyone goes home with memories of a great day at the beach filled with fun, sand, and sun.

The AIA SandCastle Competition is a fund-raising event for the AIA Houston Office, Grants, and the ArCH Foundation. It is also one of the top five revenue generating events for the City of Galveston.

Event Day

  • 7:00am Beach opens for teams and sponsors
  • 9:00am Public is encouraged to begin to arrive to watch the competition.
  • 10:00am – 3:00pm Teams compete and build. Public favorite voting
  • 3:00 – 4:30pm Judging
  • 4:30pm Awards Ceremony


Parking at East Beach Galveston is $10 cash only collected by the Galveston Parks Board.There is no ATM.

There is no Metro bus service, train line, or rapid transit to Galveston or the event. Carpooling is strongly recommended. Allow time for traffic and parking.


Feel free to bring your own picnic: be sure to mind the City of Galveston’s rules and regulations governing East Beach.  Visit or call 1.409.762.EAST for more information.  Private team and sponsor tents are not open to the public.


Please contact East Beach 1.409.762.EAST or visit with questions about beach rules regarding pets.


Please respect the hard work of  participants by not touching any of the sand sculptures even after the event. Many spectators visit the beach the next day, on Sunday, to view and enjoy the sculptures.


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