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Beyond the Sand Art Festival, Gold Coast

The giant Sand Safari sculptures have been CANCELLED on the Gold Coast beachfront for 2023. We are very disappointed to hear the Beyond the Sand Art Festival (previously Sand Safari) won’t be showcasing its usual artistic talent, live music and performances this year. There is still a lot of local enthusiasm for the event and we hope to welcome it back in future years.

Sand sculpture at Beyond the Sand Art Festival

In recent years we have seen a few changes to our favourite sand sculpture event with Sand Safari being rebranded and expanded into the Beyond the Sand Art Festival.

If you are looking for something fun and free to do in late summer in Surfers Paradise then this is it! For nine days in March, local and national artists have created an extravaganza of fun and creativity.

We’re still waiting to hear what the theme will be next year but I can’t wait to see what the artists do with it. The usual format sees giant sand sculptures created along the front with a backdrop of the surf and golden sands but it gets bigger and better with new additions and a wider representation of the arts each year. Best of all for local families the event is free.

Sand Sculpture on Surfers paradise beachfront

Details are still being finalised but as artists are confirmed and the schedule finalised you’ll see those details here.

The event has had various themes over its decade-long history with recent years being cartoon oriented including Disney Magical Friendships and Dreamworks Heros and more recently a circus theme taking things in a different direction.

One thing that has been consistent is that the artworks really have been amazing.  These monster ‘sandcastles’ are no lightweights, 10 to 25 tonnes of sand is packed and then carved to create each one.  They are made only of sand and water but a weather sealant is applied to the finished sculpture to make it a little more durable to the elements. 

Sand sculpture at Surfers Paradise

We understand that future events will expand on earlier years’ layout which has featured a giant interactive sculpture section in the middle of the display area and this is an opportunity to watch a sculpture being created and have a chat with some of the artists. 

The compact sand is boxed in several layers to keep it firmly packed.  The sections are removed one at a time and the design is carved out from the top down.  It’s quite incredible to watch the design being revealed from the lumps of wet sand, the artists work on the design each day at the start of the event.   Once complete you are able to have your photo taken with the display.

Sand Safari | Sand Safari on the Gold Coast

Our fave sand sculptures from previous years

Winnie the Pooh

Jino Van Bruinessen is from the Blue Mountains and has been sand sculpting since 1992.  He attends upwards of 20 major sculpting events a year carving out incredible works like this one.  He took first place in the 2015 Sand Safari competition with his 100 Acre Wood creation.

Winnie the Pooh | Sand Safari on the Gold Coast

The Lion King

Dae Young Ji (Louis) studied sculpture at University and works in a variety of mediums including sand, rock and snow.  Louis won second place in the Gold Coast competition with his Lion King inspired creation.

The Lion King | Sand Safari on the Gold Coast


Third place went to Leo Vamvalis for this image from Ratatouille.  Leo started sand sculpting on the beaches of Rye in 2000 and has travelled to compete in Denmark, Belgium and Singapore.  The chiselled cutouts in this piece make it particularly impressive.

Ratatouille | Sand Safari on the Gold Coast

Related: While on the Gold Coast don’t miss these top local cafes

Surfers Paradise is a great destination for a day but even better when there’s an event like the Beyond the Sand Art Festival taking place.  The beach offers a wide stretch of soft white sand and sparkling waters, it has surf-patrolled swimming areas and then right across the road are some AMAZINGLY good cafes. 

There’s always something going on here from impromptu games of beach volleyball to the Friday night markets. If you haven’t been to Surfers Paradise for a while this is the perfect excuse to return.

Entry to Beyond the Sand is free so why not make a day of it relaxing on the Surfers Paradise golden sands or perhaps continuing on to explore the less populated beaches further south on the Gold Coast?

Have you had the chance to check out Beyond the Sand or any of the many sand sculpture festivals on beaches around the world?  Let me know which ones you think are best in the comments below.

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Beyond the sand pinterest poster
Beyond the sand pinterest poster

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Friday 13th of October 2023

I’ll it was such a shame the the beyond the sand festival was cancelled last year.

Toni Broome

Saturday 28th of October 2023

It was, so far it's not looking like they have plans to bring it back, so sad as it was a favourite with families and visitors. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

Alyce bowler

Wednesday 15th of March 2023

What are the dates for 2023 on the gold coast

Toni Broome

Saturday 18th of March 2023

Hi Alyce. I've been waiting for an update, it seems that they aren't holding it this year, such a shame it is a fun event. I'll update the post.

Carol Colborn

Wednesday 25th of February 2015

How cool is that? I have wondered how they create such art forms! It is like being kids all over again, only this time more creatively so. The Gold Coast is such a fun place to be!

Lyn @thetravellinglindfields

Tuesday 24th of February 2015

I am soooo jealous. i would just love to see this. We got to Surfers a lot for the cycling, which is great, rather than the surf but February is just too hot for us. Your photos are great.

Chris Wotton

Tuesday 24th of February 2015

Wow, these are seriously impressive! Such a show of creativity.

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