How else can one describe this event any other way than with an experience? With a world-class venue, talent, and prize purse, Neptune's International Sandsculpting Championship has distinguished itself as a premier event unlike any other. From the gallery feel and extended viewing hours, your sandsculpting fill can be quelled with a single visit.
It's been the signature event of the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival since its inception, and has grown to the most prestigious event of its kind in the nation. With an international field of sculptors representing 5 countries from around the world, watch the professionals turn grains of sand into works of art in just 3 days!
26 of the world's most talented sculptors will be in Virginia Beach creating incredible works of art for our viewing pleasure.
A huge tent, almost as large as a football field, will house 18 sculptures created by 10 solo and 8 doubles teams! Sculptors will compete for the largest prize purse awarded in the country.
Friday, 9/30: 9 am - 11 pm
Saturday, 10/1: 9 am - 11 pm
Sunday, 10/2: 9 am - 9 pm
Monday - Sunday: 10/3 - 10/9: 10 am - 6 pm
Admission: $5 per person (cash only)
Children ages 12 and under are free while accompanied by an adult
Tent is wheelchair and stroller accessible. NO ANIMALS allowed in the tent.
Entrance to the tent is located at 7th Street
LEARN FROM A PRO!
Master Sculptors will hold FREE teaching clinics on the beach for your chance to learn from a pro!
Join classes with your friends, classmates, or coworkers for a once in a lifetime, hands-on learning experience.
Saturday, October 1 | On the beach at 6th Street
9:00am - 11:00am: Sandcastle Building 101
1:00pm - 3:00pm: The Art of Sculpting a Dolphin in Sand
4:00pm-6:00pm: Sandcastle Building 101
Sunday, October 2 | On the beach at 6th Street
10:00am - 12:00pm: Sandcastle Building 101
2:00pm-4:00pm: The Art of Sculpting a Dolphin in Sand
- All sand, water, and tools provided -
- No reservations -
- Arrive before class times to participate -
- Space is limited -
We have taken enhanced health and safety measures for you, our volunteers, performers, and employees. You must follow all posted instructions while attending all Neptune Festival events.
An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public space where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.
By attending a Neptune Festival event, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
DAN BELCHER, Missouri | MANUEL CAMPOS, Colombia | MATTHEW DEIBERT, New Jersey
ILYA FILIMONTSEV, Russia | KAREN FRALICH, Canada | JOHN GOWDY, Italy
CARL JARA, Ohio | PETER VOGELAAR, Canada | ABE WATERMAN, Canada | MARIANNE VAN DEN BROEK, Netherlands
BRIAN WIGGELSWORTH & ANDY DAILY, Florida | MEREDITH CORSON-DOUBLEDAY & DAN DOUBLEDAY, Florida
SUE MCGREW, Washington & DMITRY KLIMENKO, Russia | BAGRAT STEPANIAN, Russia & ANDREY VAZHYNSKY, Ukraine
THOMAS KOET, Florida & BRUCE PHILLIPS, Florida | WALTER McDONALD & CHRISTY ATKINSON, Texas
GREG GRADY, New Hampshire & BRIAN TURNBOUGH, Illinois | DEAN ARSCOTT & DAMON MERI, Florida
Dan Belcher | USA - Missouri
Dan has been creating professional sand sculptures since 1990. He is honored to have learned from many pioneers of the art form, and now to get the privilege of collaborating with, and learning from a family of many of the best and most talented sand sculptors from around the World. During this time he has won 14 world Championship in the Team, Doubles, and Solos categories, and competed in scores of other contests and hundreds of professional projects across the country around the world including Japan, China, Denmark, Italy, Australia, Great Britain and many other wonderful destinations. He loves the balance of the physical and creative sides of working with sand. He is also a Landscape Architect with a degree from Kansas State University. He has been a professional brewer, and has run a few marathons when his schedule allows.
Manuel Campos | Colombia
I am a sand sculptor from Colombia, and I have 35 years of artistic experience, of which 10 have been dedicated to sand sculpture. I had the honor of representing my country in different international competitions in a total of 9 countries (India, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Sweden, Italy, Uruguay, United States, and Australia) gaining first place in some of them. I like to work with a lot of expressive movement to achieve some kind of connection between the spectator and the sculpture. My favorite works are anatomy especially women's faces. I am also a tattoo artist, muralist and oil painter. At Halloween, I work carving pumpkins.
Matthew Deibert | USA-New Jersey
Born and raised in Atlantic City and living close to the beaches, Deibert spent many days playing in the sand, a medium readily available and affordable, building sandcastles, walls, tunnels and motes. A firefighter since 1992 he was promoted to Captain in 2004. He is married and has 6 children. After the birth of his first son trips to the beach renewed his interest in sand. Enjoyment transformed into passion after studying the art and discovering Atlantic City’s history of sand sculpture. Competing since 1999, Deibert and his son captured 1st place on the 2011 Travel Channel’s “Sand Wars“. Free time is usually spent with family and friends on the New Jersey shore. He also enjoys playing golf…one place he tries to stay out of the sand.
Ilya Filimontsev | Russia
After studying at the art college in Moscow I worked as a jeweler/goldsmith designing and making jewelry for 7 years. While working as a jeweler I started making ice sculptures and found I enjoyed the combination of traveling and sculpting. I quit my jewelry job and continued to study sculpture for 6 more years at the Moscow State Academic Art Institute of Surikov. I have been sculpting sand since 2005 while traveling all over the world. I have participated in 100 international sand sculpture festivals. (Editor's note: Ilya is too modest, he is a world-renowned sculptor!)
Karen Fralich | Canada
In 1994, a professional sand sculptor hired Karen to help him on a small sand sculpture in a local mall. Karen was immediately addicted and spent the next 4 years learning the rudiments of sand sculpting while still working full-time time in restaurants, clothing sales and mascot costume construction. In 1998, she entered her first international sand sculpting contest and by 2001 she was working full time as a free-lance sculptor. Her work takes her around the world, collaborating with sand sculpture companies in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Italy, Holland, England, Spain, China, Taiwan, Japan and Australia. She loves collaborating with her large extended family of wonderful sand sculptor friends! To date, Karen has competed in over 115 Masters Level International sand sculpture contests, winning 25 First Place Titles. She is a 5-time World Champion and 5-time North American Champion. Karen’s first time in the Neptune Festival was 1998, this is her 14th year of participation!
John Gowdy | Italy/USA-New Jersey
John is a professional sculptor and performance painter. He is an American who has relocated to Castelfranco, Italy near Venice to pursue his interest in art. He sculpts sand, marble, and paints for audiences around the world. Born in Atlantic City, NJ he served 27 years as a firefighter earning the rank of captain before retiring in 2006. In his younger years he was a beach lifeguard for 7 years in Atlantic City. John majored in both Fine Art and Physics at Stockton State College (now Stockton University) and has been sculpting sand professionally for over 25 years. He has a sand sculpture company “Sand Sculptures by John Gowdy & Company LLC” that manages amateur and professional sand events around the world. John has earned many international sand sculpting titles. Too many to mention here. He considers Virginia Beach to be a second home having been a competitor here at The Neptune Festival for 25 years or more. “The Neptune Festival, in my opinion, is the crown jewel of sand sculpting competitions around the world. The friendly management here seeks out and finds the most talented sand sculptors on the planet for your viewing pleasure. It is an honor to be among them. Enjoy the show!”
Carl Jara | USA - Ohio
“What can I say about sand sculpture, it is real. It is an impossible feat, often under impossible conditions, by people with impossible talent. Made for you, right before your eyes. It’s not a magic trick, or a special effect, or 3D computer graphics, there’s no internal lattice, or special additives, or mirrors. It’s just sand and water, and we’re just doing what we do, what we love to do. We do it for you, so you can experience it with us, not us locked away in an ivory tower of unimaginable euphoria with majestic melodies in the background. Well, ok, maybe we are, but you’re here, with us, sharing our passion, our gift, our drive. Like music or dance, or theatre or dinner, you are here, now with us, and we are giving you something you cannot imagine, that we can’t explain, and that you will never forget. By the way...Hi...I’m Carl...and I make stuff”
Peter Vogelaar | Canada
Peter is a very versatile artist, working in many media from snow and sand to steel and bronze. He particularly loves sand for the spontaneity of the creative process.The outcome is never certain, and like life, it's an ongoing learning experience. He appreciates the opportunity to share his work with the appreciative audience in Virginia Beach.
Abram Waterman | Canada
Abe Waterman is the rootin'-tootin' son of a cold water plunge in psychedelia and a volcanic explosion of hot gooey marshmallow fudge. Born and raised on the outskirts of the outskirts of the most erroneously wayward side of the tracks, he has forged a reckless path through the mythologies of modern times, leaving behind him a wake of enough scrap thoughts, pixelated debris and discarded jargon to fill nearly 24 life size replicas of the south side of Manhattan. Riding a crescent moon of spinach ravioli consciousness, he is bringing his travel sized, six stringed, pea shooter on his hell fire, brimstone and lollipop journey to Virginia Beach, so pull up your socks, polish your Sunday shoes and get ready to dance Virginia, as if your life depended on it. Because it does.
Brian Wigglesworth | USA-Florida
A multi-media artist from Sarasota, Florida, whose home beach, Siesta Key, was just named #1 Beach in the United States for the second time. Siesta Key is a crystal white sand beach where Brian operates a Professional Sand sculpting company called Sandventure, and has created and oversees a master sand sculpting competition, appropriately named, The Siesta Key Crystal Classic, held the second week in November. After art school, Brian worked in many different art mediums but never got too involved with sand until about ten years ago, but it quickly became his favorite form for expressing his talents. He quickly moved up in the competition world until he was competing against incredibly gifted sculptors from around the world, though competing may be a generous description. He found himself trying to learn as much style and technique as he could from these artists that might better be described as his mentors. Brian was a commercial designer, illustrator and muralist for many years in Minneapolis, MN before retiring to Florida to spend time in the surf and sand. In competitions, he tends to take a graphic approach, attempting to create sculptures that please the crowds rather than express inner soulful, artistic imagery. “I love competing at the Neptune Festival, the largest sand sculpting competition in the country and my personal favorite.” He says it's due to the great people who put it on, the community who gets involved and the company of quality, creative sculptors who enjoy coming together to create and have a great time. Brian was proud to take third place in 2016 with his tribute to Prince, artist from his childhood home of Minneapolis.
Andy Daily | USA - Florida
Andy grew up on Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota Florida and attended the Visual Performing Arts program at Booker for two years where he studied all mediums of art. It wasn’t untiil 2011 that the art of Sand Sculpting was introduced to him from a girlfriend (now wife). Totally immersed from the beginning, Andy branched out by working for local artist on various sand projects and entering and winning sand sculpting competitions. In 2017 he teamed up with a friend to start Sandventure,a Sandsculpting Company. This occupation is one that not only pays the bills but feeds his soul.
Meredith Corson-Doubleday | USA-Florida
Meredith has been sculpting sand for 32 years. In 1985 she volunteered to help on a Guinness record breaking sand sculpture and got hooked. “I have no formal art training but I have always worked with my hands. Sand was a natural fit for me”. “How lucky am I, that I found a way to make my passion, my profession? I have fun at work every day and you are standing in my office”.
Dan Doubleday | USA-Florida
To me, life is an adventure. In my younger years I followed my wanderlust. I made a living in many occupations over the years. A welder, well driller, computer operator, seafood cannery plant manager, commercial fisherman, lumber mill worker, general contractor and woodworker. I started sculpting sand on the beaches of Santa Cruz, CA in 1995 and stuck with that. I met Meredith at a competition in 1996. We have been traveling the world creating sculptures ever since.
Sue McGrew | USA - Washington
Exploding onto the professional sand sculpting scene in early 2009, Sue McGrew has enjoyed a meteoric rise to international prominence. She has participated in over three dozen sand sculpting festivals, and dozens more competitions, winning a host of honors for her efforts. Sue costarred on the TV show Sand Masters, which followed a cast of artists on their international adventures in sand sculpting. Sue employs a truly unique style which places a heavy emphasis on flowing organic shapes, her pieces often centering on stylized renditions of the nude human body in a style reminiscent of art deco coupled with her own flourishes to make each piece truly memorable.
Dmitry Klimenko | Russia
In 2004 Dmitry graduated from the Saint Petersburg State Academy of Art and immediately began ice carving. He entered the sand world in 2005 plunging deeper and deeper into sand carving with it’s never ending possibility to grow. He won medals in Saint Petersburg and Moscow and has since carved sand in Canada, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, and Russia. He also works in wood and bronze.
Bagrat Stephanian | Russia
Stepanian, renowned sculptor of sand, snow and ice, is a 2004 graduate of the Moscow State University of Art. “I´ve been interested in sand and ice from my childhood when I played with other children and created little sand castles on the beach in summer and made snowmen during winters in Moscow. At first it was just my hobby, later becoming the occupation of my life,” says Stepanian. His career began in 1998 and includes four international 1st and 2nd place wins in sand and three in ice and snow. He was part of the creative team which directed the “Great Roman Empire,” a Moscow sand project, and is an artistic director for the indoor ice museum in Moscow.
Thomas Koet | USA - Florida
Thomas Koet is the 2010 World Champion of Sand Sculpting and has been sculpting for 22 years. His World Champion win was a shining moment in his career, competing against 27 artists from 17 countries. In 2019 Thomas won the “Best Sand Sculptor of the Netherlands” for a national T.V. show. Large events give Thomas the opportunity to make his art on an impressive scale. Originally from the Netherlands, Thomas has a Master’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering and has been a designer and sculptor for some of Europe’s and North America’s largest sand sculpting events. Thomas’ artistic goal is to make extraordinary sculptures with the highest quality possible. His ability and talent has taken him all over Europe and the U.S. as well as China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia the Middle East and Canada
Bruce Phillips | USA - Florida
Bruce Phillips has been involved in the art of sand sculpting for over 25 years. He is known throughout the world, from Tokyo to Amsterdam. He creates amazing works of art at festivals and competitions, and does corporate and private events as well. In addition to sand, Bruce has fabricated sculptures from small to very large scale in a wide variety of other media.
Dean Arscott | USA - Florida
ILLUSTRATOR / GRAPHIC DESIGNER / SAND SCULPTOR Dean was born and raised in central Maryland. Graduating from Ringling College of Art & Design in 2008, he now resides in St. Petersburg, FL working on a wide variety of illustration, design, and sand sculpture projects. He has been sculpting sand with Team Sandtastic since 2010.
Damon Meri | USA - Florida
From Madeira Beach, Florida, Damon is a long time lover of the arts. His unique style and outside the box mindset has earned him many sand sculpting awards over the past 10 years. “My hope is to create something, that makes you feel something". To provoke a reaction or emotion through art is the greatest reward. As a sculptor, an artist and a street painter, Damon considers himself very fortunate to share his talents in festivals and competitions.