• Heather

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

The Ultimate Sand Castle Competition

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic is an International Sand Sculpting Festival held annually in November. It is a perfect way to showcase the famous pristine, pure white sand of Siesta Key. The master sculptures have commented that the quartz-based snow white sand makes their sculptures appear as if they were “carved in marble”. The competition for this year (November 13 – 16, 2020) has been canceled. Next year's event is scheduled for November 12 – 15, 2021.

The master sculptures have commented that the quartz-based snow white sand makes their sculptures appear as if they were “carved in marble”.

The festival is a 3 day event in which the highlight is the master sculptors’ competition. In 2019, eight teams comprised of two sculptors and eight solo artists from around the world competed in the ninth annual festival. The sand sculptors hailed from South Korea, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, Singapore, United Kingdom, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the United States. In addition to the Masters Competition, there is an amateur sand sculpting competition. Anyone can register for the amateur competition but the field is limited to 25 competitors.

A fun and fast-paced sculpting competition is the Quick Sand Contest in which 2 master sculptors race against time (10 minutes) to create a crowd pleasing masterpiece. The winner is determined by applause. This competition runs several times throughout the festival with the finals on Sunday at 12:30 pm. The festival offers sand sculpting demonstrations and lessons. There is live music each day with a stage set up under a tent. On Saturday night there is a band playing from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. See the sand sculptures under colored lights on Saturday evening when the festival is open until 9:00 pm.

The festival includes a Vendor Village, Barefoot Beach Bar Party Tent, and food truck rally which are open to the public and no entry fee is required. The Vendor Village is set up along the outside perimeter of the Sand Village and it’s an arts festival featuring all types of artists and beach themed merchandise. There are 6 food trucks and water and beer stations. There is a Dining Tent next to the food trucks so you can sit at a table in the shade. Near the Entrance Tent, the Beach Bar serves frozen tropical drinks and other adult beverages.

If you can’t make it to the festival each day, you can view a slide show of the progression of the sculptures at the check-in kiosk.

A Panel of Judges selects the winners of the Masters Competition and the Awards Ceremony is held on Sunday at 3pm. The winners of the Amateur Competition are announced on Saturday afternoon. The festival spectators are encouraged to vote for their favorite sculpture. Before leaving the competition, don’t forget to cast your vote. Let me forewarn you, it’s not an easy choice. I found all the sculptures to be spectacular. The People’s Choice Award is announced on the festival’s Facebook page on Tuesday.

The admission price includes all activities inside the Sand Village (festival fenced area) including sculpture viewing, the Quick Sand competition, lessons & demonstrations, and live music entertainment. Tickets are available at the entry gate or you can buy a ticket in advance online. Even though Siesta Beach has a large parking lot (over 900 spaces), parking is a major issue to this popular event that attracts over 50,000 spectators. To avoid parking issues, one option is to take SCAT, the public bus to Siesta Beach. Use Route 11 to Siesta Beach. Another option if you live or are staying on Siesta Key is to take the Siesta Key Breeze Free Trolley Service. Consider taking Uber or Lyft.

I didn’t know what to expect when I attended this event but it completely exceeded my expectations. The sculptures are larger than life, incredibly intricate, and unique. The details are phenomenal. It’s amazing how these artists transform a mound of sand into a breathtakingly beautiful marble-like sculpture. You have to see it in person to fully appreciate the beauty and artistic skill.

This information is for the event in November 2020 so the prices may change for the 2021 festival.

Event Hours:

Friday: 10 am – 5 pm

Saturday: 10 am – 9 pm

Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm

Monday: 10 am – 5 pm

Advance Purchase Tickets (Online):

Adult: $10 per day

Children (5-17 accompanied by a paying adult): $5 per day

Children under 5: free

Military and Seniors: $8 per day

4-Day Value Pass: $30 per adult and $15 for children

(ages 5 – 17 if accompanies by a paying adult)

Ticket Purchasing at Event Day-of:

Adult: $15 per day

Children (5-17 accompanied by a paying adult): $5 per day

Children under 5: free

Military and Seniors: $10 per day

Reserved Parking Passes:

Must buy in advance and online

Friday: $40

Saturday: $60

Sunday: $50

Monday: $40

For more information and online tickets, visit www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.

You can subscribe to the Siesta Key Crystal Classic mailing list and follow them on Instagram @SiestaKeyCrystalClassic to stay informed about the upcoming event and up-to-date information.