28th Annual AIA SandCastle Competition

28th Annual AIA SandCastle Competition In Galveston 

Galveston Island, Texas- 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. This weekend gigantic sandcastles will decorate the shore of Galveston’s East Beach. This Saturday, May 31, the island will host the 28th annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sandcastle Competition.

This year over 60 teams have their eyes and shovels set on winning the prestigious Golden Bucket Award at one of the largest amateur sandcastle building competitions in the world, the AIA Sandcastle Competition will kick off at 9 a.m. with teams of architects, designers and engineers competing for a chance to win the coveted Golden Bucket Award. The event, sponsored by the Houston Chapter of AIA, is free for the public to attend. Gates will open at 9 a.m. The teams will build from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., during which the public can vote for their favorite sandcastle. Winners will be announced during an awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m. 

The judging of the sculptures is rated on originality of concept, artistic execution, technical difficulty, carving technique, and utilization of the site. In addition to the Golden Bucket, awards are given in several categories including Best Traditional, That’s Entertainment, Most Complex, Stars & Stripes, Best Architectural, Most Hilarious, Most Lifelike/Realistic as well as best team t-shirt design, best team signage, best costume, and public favorite. At the end of the day, everyone goes home with memories of a great day at the beach filled with fun, sand, and sun.

This year AIA Sandcastle is helping the City of Galveston in an attempt to break a world record for the most aluminum cans collected in an eight-hour period on May 31 in conjunction with the AIA Sandcastle Competition. Teams, sponsors and spectators will assist in this effort by collecting their cans during the competition. 

Event Day

  • 6:30am 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
  • 11:00am – 7:00pm City of Galveston’s Guinness Book of World Record Recycling Collection
  • 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. 

This year there will be a shuttle service running from Stewart Beach, 201 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, TX 77550, to East Beach from 10am-6pm. Parking at Stewart Beach is 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.


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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