Because of the rise in popularity of Sand sculpting as an art form in recent decades most notably in beach areas, hundreds of annual competitions are held all over the world. Festivals, corporations, communities with shopping centres offering attractions for school holidays, plus many other events also hire artists to provide activities and installations. Sand castles typically made once just by children, simply for the fun of it, have evolved to become in many contexts, impressive large, complex constructions lasting much longer than a temporal afternoon on the beach.
Techniques can be surprisingly sophisticated, and record-breaking achievements have been recorded in the Guinness World Records.
Sometimes contests are staged as advertising or promotional events. There are numerous worldwide festivals and Frankston City in Melbourne Victoria now hosts an annual Sand Festival on the foreshore.
Some sand ‘castle’ artists are purists, using no artificial materials, formwork, coloring, adhesive or heavy machinery. G. Augustine Lynas, is one such purist. He is has been building public sand sculptures for over 50 years. But, in competitions, the rules often require that the finished sculpture be sprayed with a stabilizing coating that preserves it and allows the work to be properly judged and enjoyed by spectators. Coated sculptures can last for months.
Since 1989, a World Championship in Sand Sculpture has been held in Harrison Hot Springs (Canada, BC), also known as “Harrisand”. The competition has solo, double and team categories. The world’s tallest sandcastle was built as part of the 2007 Sun Fun Festival. The structure was 15.1 m (49.55 feet) high. It took 10 days to construct, and used 300 truckloads of sand.
On September 1, 2007, Ed Jarrett completed his world-record 9.66 m (31.7-foot) high sand castle, Casco, Maine. The “Castle to the Sun” was constructed to raise funds to benefit sick children. His 8.9 m (-29 foot 3 inch) sand castle in 2003 was declared the world’s tallest of the time.