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Friday, September 27 – Sunday, October 6

Sculpting Hours Only
(Tent Closed to the Public)

Mon, 9/23 – Wed, 9/25: 8am-5pm
Thurs, 9/26: 8am-2pm

Tent Open to the Public
Fri, 9/27 – Sat, 9/28: 9am-11pm
Sun, 9/29: 9am-9pm
Mon, 9/30 – Sun, 10/6: 10am-6pm


Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Between 6th – 8th Streets

Entrance to the tent is located at 7th Street on the Beach

Space 17 (1)

Experience a World-Class Wonder!

How else can one describe this event any other way than with an experience? With a world-class venue, 32 of the world’s most talented sculptors, and an exciting 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 15 countries from around the world, watch the professionals turn grains of sand into works of art in just 3 days!

View the 2023 Winners Here

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General InformationSand ClinicsSculptorsFAQs

The Land of Sand

A huge tent, almost as large as a football field, will house 22 sculptures created by 12 solo and 10 doubles teams! Sculptors will compete for the largest prize purse awarded in the country.

  • Viewing time of 10 days
  • Walkways and viewing areas providing an intimate view of the process and artwork
  • Lighting for viewing into the evening hours
  • Protection from wind and rain, providing an entertainment option no matter the weather!
  • Unique photo opportunities
  • Live “QuickSand” competitions (These sculptors are quick on their feet!)
  • Meet and Greet opportunities with the extremely talented pool of sculptors!

Double Wave Divider 

General Information

The entrance to the Sand Sculpting Tent is located on the beach at 7th Street. The tent is wheelchair AND stroller accessible. However, NO ANIMALS are allowed in the tent.

Admission: $7 per person

Admission must be purchased on-site and all ticket sales are cash only! Children ages 12 and under are free while accompanied by an adult.

Detail of eye on sculpture in International Sand Sculpture Championship Tent at Neptune Festival
Blue Double Wave (Short)


Blue Double Wave (Short)
Double Wave Divider 

Sand Clinics

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.

All sand, water and tools will be provided. No reservations are available, and please arrive before class times to participate — space will be limited!

Saturday, September 28

Join us on the beach at 6th street!

  • 9:00am – 11:00am: No Hassle Sand Castle
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Dolphins and Sea Turtles
  • 4:00pm-6:00pm: King Neptune’s Face

Sunday, September 29

Join us on the beach at 6th street!

  • 9:00am – 11:00am: No Hassle Sand Castle
  • 1:00pm-3:00pm: Dolphins and Sea Turtles

Double Wave Divider 

2023 Sand Sculptors

We’re lucky to have 32 of the world’s most talented sculptors in Virginia Beach creating incredible works of art for our viewing pleasure.

Meet the Artists

International Sandsculpting Championship FAQs

Do you have questions? We have answers! Check out some of our frequently asked questions using the expandable module below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can reach out to our team using the button below.

Ask a Question

A ticket to enter the International Sandsculpting Championship tent costs $7 per person (admission purchased on-site – cash only). Children ages 12 and under are free while accompanied by an adult.

Yes! There are walkways in and out of the tent, as well as around each sculpture, making it easy for everyone to enjoy the event.

No animals are allowed in the tent.

No reservations needed! All sand, water, and tools provided, just arrive before class times to participate. CLICK HERE for clinic times and themes.

No, the tent is closed to the public while the sculptors are creating their art. During this time, the tent resembles a construction zone – with tools, hoses, and buckets making it dangerous to be open to the public. Plus, the artists need to focus on their work…this is a competition, after all! Pending weather, we try to keep the tent walls open so work can be visible from the Boardwalk whenever possible.

Over the many years of hosting this event, the Neptune Festival has learned that nothing destroys a beautiful sculpture faster than a gust of wind. We construct a tent to protect the sculptures, to allow us to keep the event going for 10 days. We construct walkways to provide an intimate view of the artwork and make the event accessible to all. The tent also allows us to keep the viewing going into the evening hours.

Solo competitors have 30 hours over 4 days to complete their sculptures. Team competitors have the same 30 hours to finish their work. They all start with a pile of dry sand, and end with beautiful works of art!

Over 450 tons (900,000 pounds) is trucked in for the event. Solo competitors are working with approximately 15 tons each, and team competitors are working with approximately 22 tons each.

We import sand that has a small percentage of clay and a finer grain than the replenished sand found on the beach. This creates a better base for sculpting.

A wind spray is sprayed on the sculptures to protect them from high winds.  It is a mixture of one part bio-degradable glue to ten parts water.

Forms can be wood (for square or rectangular shapes) or flexible (for round shapes). Forms are used to confine the sand, so it can be compacted. Forms must be removed before the hand sculpting begins.

Sculptors do “pound ups” to remove most of the air from between grains of sand to compact the sand/water. A “pound up” is exactly what it sounds like – a lot of work, and the secret to success!

The total prize purse and cash payout is $58,000 – the largest prize purse in the country! Prizes are broken down into categories, including Neptune’s Choice, Sculptors’ Choice, People’s Choice, and overall winners.

The Neptune Festival invites sculptors based on their bios and past performances. Those selected must have competed and placed in well known and respected International competitions.

Play in the sand … A lot!

Combine that with passion, artistic talent and skill, creativity, a willingness to embark upon a not-so-ordinary career (one which requires working in rain, wind, and sun), be somewhat of a risk-taker (always the possibility of a collapse) and the temperament to recover. It doesn’t hurt to have a little “childlike wonder” either!

It is commonly believed that the first artists to actually profit from their sand sculpting abilities surfaced in Atlantic City, NJ in the late 19th century. Spectators walking along the boardwalk would throw tips to the bowler-hat wearing artists. Some credit one Philip McCord with creating the first true sand sculpture in 1897.

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.