Want to see sandcastles crafted by actual architects? Annual sandcastle building competition returns to Galveston’s East Beach this weekend

Sand castle (Pixabay)

The annual AIA Sandcastle Competition will liven up some sunset strolls along the beach this weekend.

Soon, sixty teams composed of architects, contractors and engineers affiliated with the American Institute of Architects will transform a swath of Galveston’s East Beach into an incredible, albeit somewhat temporary, art exhibit. Sandcastle crews began developing their schematics months ago.

Come game day, Aug. 21, competitors will have just five hours to assemble their sandcastles in a scramble for the prestigious Gold Bucket Award.

A panel of judges will rate the ocean-adjacent creations on originality of concept, artistic execution, technical difficulty, carving technique, and utilization of the site.

In addition to the coveted Gold Bucket, awards will be doled out in several categories including Traditional Castle, Architectural Icon, Kidtastic: Nursery Rhymes, Texas Pride, Pop Culture: Video Games, Go for the Gold, Animal Kingdom as well as Public Favorite and Greatest Feat of Structural Ingenuity.

Spectators, in case it wasn’t abundantly clear, you cannot touch the sandcastles during or after the event.


6:30 a.m. Beach opens for teams and sponsors

9:00 a.m. Public is encouraged to begin to arrive to watch the competition

10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Teams compete and build

1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Public favorite voting

3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Judging

4:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony


Parking at East Beach Galveston is available for a flat $15 cash fee. Organizers said there is no ATM on site and added that there is no Metro bus service, train line, or rapid transit to the event.


Spectators can rent umbrellas and chairs in advance by contacting Robbie Carnes at East Beach Cantina and Rentals at (409) 974-5671.

Searching for more things to do in the Houston area? Visit our things to do page.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.