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Beyond the Sand Art Festival, Gold Coast

The giant Sand Safari sculptures will be back on the Gold Coast beachfront in March 2021 under a new name. The Beyond the Sand Art Festival will go even further in showcasing artistic talent with live music and circus performances.

Sand sculpture at Beyond the Sand Art Festival

This year will see 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 this summer in Surfers Paradise then this is it! For nine days from the 13th – 21st March local and national artists will create an extravaganza of fun and creativity.

The theme for 2021 is CIRCUS CARNIVAL and I can’t wait to see what the artists do with it. There will be giant sand sculptures created along the front with a backdrop of the surf and golden sands but there is more on the way. We’ll see regular daily circus performances and an exciting array of live music. Best of all for local families the event is free and has a COVID safe plan so make sure you get this one on the calendar.

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. The CIRCUS theme will take things in a different direction and we’re excited to see where that goes.

One thing that has been consistent is that is the artworks really have been amazing.  These monster ‘sandcastles’ are no light weights, 10 to 25 tonnes of sand is packed 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 the event 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 carved out from the top down.  It’s quite incredible to watch the design being revealed from the lumps of wet sand, the artists will be work on the design between 9.30 am and 6 pm each day.   Once complete you will be 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 lives in 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, Belguim and Singapore.  The chiseled cut outs 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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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.


Monday 23rd of February 2015

This is so cool! Love the artistic talent behind these masterpieces! SO much incredulous detail!


Monday 23rd of February 2015

My kids would love this! There is an annual sand sculpting competition in Virginia Beach, VA that we like to attend, but they don't have Disney!

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