Sep 1 - Sep 4, 2017
1140 North Harbor Drive
"B" Street Pier, San Diego, CA

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The U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition is open to the public for 4 full days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 2-5 September 2016, from 9am until 7pm daily. Beer and wine will be available, and there’s entertainment too. Unique. Creative. Romantic. See below. (Please note: An earlier edition of this website mentioned that the beer and wine garden would have extended hours on Sat. night. This has been cancelled. On all 4 event nights, the beer garden will close at 7pm.)

The schedule


Friday-9/02 | Saturday-9/03 | Sunday-9/04 | Monday-9/05 (Labor Day!)

Friday, 2 September


9am: Pier gates open to the public for the first time and remain open until 7pm.  Master sculptors from all over the planet – Japan (yes, waaay over there), Italy, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, Latvia (yes, the one on the Baltic, squeezed in between Russia, Estonia and Lithuania) and Canada – are challenging the best from the U.S. to earn their share of more than $60,000 in prize and appearance money.  They’re about half-done with their sculptures on Friday morning; 3/4ths done by late afternoon, because they started bright and early on the previous Wednesday.  (Sorry that you weren’t invited then, but we have to keep some things to ourselves.)  The World Masters compete in solo, head-to-head competition and they have until 2pm on Saturday to finish, when they are judged by a prestigious panel of artists.  Friday and Saturday are great days to see them work and watch their incredible sculptures come to life.

There are also 3-person teams competing in a class called Cool California Carvers.  They come from all over the State and build more amazing sculptures.  You might catch a glimpse of them “pounding up” on Friday, but they do most of their creating on Saturday and Sunday.  They’re judged on Sunday afternoon.

While guests can’t buy the fantastic sand sculptures at the event (they’re too large to fit in your vehicle, and they’d seriously mess up your carpet), patrons can purchase and bring home works by other artists who display their metal and glass sculptures, acrylics, ceramics and wood carvings, wall décor, clothing, jewelry and more, today through Monday.   (There are over 1,000 pieces that you can buy, but not every one of these artists are on the pier every day…mostly, but give some of ‘em a break now and then.)

11am: Starting at 11am on Friday, bands, singers, dancers and more perform throughout the event. Some of the best entertainers in San Diego appear on our stage. Click here for more.

Kids play and learn in our giant sandbox.  Professional sculptors are available to teach your children how to build sandcastles.  That’s like having a PGA Masters champion teach your 5-year-old how to play golf.  Are you kidding? How often can you do that?  Oh, and there are rides for your offspring as well.  Like a zipline that’s aimed at the bay. (Don’t worry. It stops before anyone gets wet.) And Bubble Fun that lets your kids actually walk on water. (Well, almost. Bet their grandma thinks they do anyway.) There’s a coconut tree for them to climb. And a springy thingy that’ll send them up and down and up and down and up.

Gourmet food trucks are on premise and offer coffee and other beverages, lunch and even dinner. Food from around the country and around the world.  Delicious. Click here to learn more.

If you want to wash down that delicious food with a beer or glass of wine, we have it.  Did we say that already?

It’s the Partying for a Purpose Lounge at the end of the pier that supports It’s All About the Kids Foundation.

Friday’s Military Appreciation Day.  Free admission for active duty personnel.  And fire, police and EMT first responders too.  Just show your i.d.

For you civilians out there, Friday admission is cheaper than dirt (sand is not so cheap) at just $10 for adults, $8 for kids and seniors.  (It’s even less online, if you’re quick enough, or there’s a $2 discount off adult tickets at the gate when you show proof of ridership on MTS trolleys or buses, or the Coaster.) 4-day passes are available for those who want to watch the sculptures be created.   ‘Created’ is an understatement.  This has been called one of the most creative venues on earth.

7pm:  The pier closes for the night.


Saturday, 3 September


9am: Gates open for the day.  World Masters (who work solo) start their 4th and final day of sculpting. They’re almost done.  California’s Cool Carvers (in teams of 3) start this morning at 9:00 and run through Sunday afternoon at 2:00.  See how team members work together.  They mostly talk to each other, except when someone cuts the wrong ear off Van Gogh.  Or was that Picasso’s Weeping Woman?  Was that an ear or a nose?  Glue that thing back on there, brother!  (Whoops, no glue allowed.)

Dimensional artists exhibit and sell all day.  Find wonderful one-of-a-kind necklaces, bracelets, earrings, clothing and accessories, tabletop, wall décor and more.  Phantastic photography and painting too.  Once each year and only on the pier! Oh, and we have

Kids’ sandbox and rides are open all day.  Gourmet food trucks serve great snacks, meals and drinks.  They offer ethnic food from all over the country and all over the world to honor our sand artists and satisfy your palate.

11am: Live entertainment begins.  There’re new bands, new sets every other hour.  The event host grabs the mic to thank our sponsors and maybe give away free dinners at downtown restaurants, gift certificates to Seaport Village and Headquarters shops and maybe other stuff. Y’never know.  No purchase required.  You could win a prize just by walking by.

Voting starts for the Peoples’ Choice Awards for the World Masters Class competition.  If you want your voice to count, be here and vote from 11:00 until 2:00 today, when the poll closes.  You have exactly 3 hours.

2pm: This is the deadline for sculptures in the World Masters Class to be complete.  You’ve never seen sandcastles like this before!

4pm: City of San Diego and Unified Port of San Diego officials join our all-star panel of judges for the first award ceremony of the event.  (Yep, there’s another ceremony on Sunday.)  Tonight, we name the grand prize winner in the World Masters class and find out if the trophy goes to one our challengers from Europe, Asia or Canada, or if one of our sculptors from the good ol’ US of A is able to take the trophy back home.   So far, it’s 3 to 1 in favor of the away team.  Our 2012 grand prize winner was Rusty Croft from just up the street (450 miles or so) in Carmel, CA.  Then things went South.  (Or East, as the case may be.)  The 2013 grand prize went to Sandis Kondrats of Latvia.  And just to show how worldly we are, 2014’s grand prize went to JOOheng Tan of Singapore.  He came the furthest and did the bestest.  Last year, the grand prize (and almost everything else) went to Melineige Beauregard from Canada.  At least it’s getting a bit closer to home.  Amazing art!

5pm: While the World Masters were getting their awards on the big stage, sculpting was still going on at the other end of the pier.  But now the bell rings on the first day for California’s Cool Carver 3-member team competition . . . to be continued tomorrow . . . .


7pm:   We’re closed.  Everybody off the pier!  If you haven’t yet had dinner at one of our phenomenal phood trucks, try one of San Diego’s best restaurants right here on the Embarcadero, at Seaport Village, the Headquarters, Little Italy, the Gaslamp or even East Village. It’s a gorgeous evening. Walk it. Then hit the clubs. Downtown’s full of ‘em. Stay over at the Wyndham San Diego Bayside diagonally across from the event or the Sofia closer to all the clubs, you dirty stayout! They are our Official Hotels. Our gates will open again at 9:00 tomorrow morning.


Sunday, 4 September


9am: Gates open.  World Masters sculptures are done and they’ve been judged.  See which one is the grand prize winner.  See if the European or Asian or Canadian entries were able to beat the totally wonderful entries from the U.S.  (Who do you think is writing this anyway?)  See which sculptures were awarded second and third place by our judges.  See which ones took the People’s Choice award and which took the Sculptors’ Choice.  (That’s big.  That’s recognition by their peers.)

California’s Cool Carver teams started yesterday and have 5 more hours today to continue to create their designs.  See them in action from opening bell through 2pm, their final deadline.

We may have said this before, but we cannot say it enough:  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  10 tons of sand could break your floor.  And sand can get into everything.

You cannot take sand sculptures home but you can buy gorgeous hand-made art in the form of metal sculpture, glass, acrylics, ceramics, wood carving, jewelry, clothing and accessories . . . wonderful works for yourself, your walls, tables, home, patio and garden . . . from hand-picked artists who are on our pier just once each year.

Kids’ sandbox is open all day, as are great rides that you don’t see just anywhere.  (You’ll never see ‘em at Bloomingdales. Not even at Toys ‘R’ Us.)   And our terrific assemblage of gourmet food trucks is here all day too.

11am:  Live entertainment begins for the day.  There’re new bands, new sets every other hour.   Beer and wine is available starting now.

2pm:  This is the absolute deadline for sand sculptures in the Cool California Carver class to be complete.   Our panel of expert judges are waiting for right now to cast their votes and ruminate about each team’s work.

4pm: City and Port officials join us on stage for the second and last award ceremony of the event.  See who wins grand, first and second prizes in the Cool California Carver sand sculpture class, and see which artists win in the dimensional art category.  There’s lots of prize money involved (okay, not as much as in the World Masters class), as well as prestige and feel-goodness.  (Look that up.  It’s in some rock star’s dictionary.)

7pm: The pier closes for the night.


Monday, Labor Day, 5 September


9am: Gates open.  If you weren’t on the pier after the late afternoon award ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday to see which sculptures were judged best by event officials, didn’t catch the 11pm or 2am news, or simply want to see these amazing sand sculptures up close on their last day on the planet, this is the day to visit the pier. Reminder:  sand sculpture is a temporary art form.  As beautiful as they are, the sculptures will be destroyed tomorrow.  There’ll be photographs, maybe even video, but they’ll never be seen again up close, full size, in real life.

Art on the Pier remains open today, but again, this is the last day to see (and buy) our amazing assortment of art works in such a wide range of media.  At 7pm tonight, our artists pack up and go home to places north and east, near and far.  (Maybe one or two are going south.)  If you want absolutely outrageous gifts for a loved one, or even for yourself or your home and you haven’t yet been to our Dimensional Art Exposition, get here today.  The huge sandbox and kid rides are still open to keep your partner and kids busy while you shop.

And they (and you) can quench their thirst and fill their tummies at any of a dozen gourmet food trucks scattered around our beautiful venue, out in San Diego Bay (on the pier, not the water).

11am: Live entertainment begins for the very last day.  There’re new bands, new sets at 11am. 1, 3 and 5pm.  These folks are some of the best in San Diego.  See the Night + Day section of the Union-Tribune on Thursday, 1 September, for a complete list of performers for the whole holiday weekend.  Or click here. (If you can’t find Night + Day, it’s because our ad is wrapped around it! And fer cryion’ out loud, don’t use it for throwing fish away!)  Food trucks are open.  Wine and beer are available.

2pm: Great time to be here with the kids and grandkids.  One of our sculptors will again be giving lessons on how to build sandcastles.  These artists have not only won awards at our event in the past; they’ve created incredible masterpieces all over the country as well. Don’t miss this opportunity.  It’s like Adam Levine teaching your kid how to sing.

5pm:   Great time to be thinking about dinner on the pier.  We not only have a huge selection of American and international food from our gourmet trucks, but we have tables and seating for close to 300, out in the fresh air in the middle of the Bay.  It’s glorious.

7pm: We close until Labor Day weekend 2017. See you then!


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