Guide to Siesta Key International Sand Sculpting Festival

The Siesta Key International Sand Sculpting Festival – a.k.a. Crystal Classic – started as a way to honor the sand-sculpting art form in 2010. Since then, the event has grown into a must-see in Siesta Key, drawing more than 40,000 attendees each year. What makes this sand sculpting festival a success is Siesta Key’s unique white quartz sand that provides the ideal playground for sculptures and spectators alike. Some have even said these creations look as if they were made from marble. Join the fun, and read this guide to the Crystal Classic.

Get the Scoop: Siesta Key International Sand Sculpting Festival

Siesta Key International Sand Sculpting Festival

Photo: Clyde Robinson

Crystal Classic: When and Where

The five-day event, held in November on Siesta Beach, offers up-close sand-sculpture viewing inside the sand village perimeter. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the event, with daily tickets around $5 for children and $10 for adults. Those who want to meet artists and sponsors can attend the celebration event for an additional fee. The party is a fun way to meet all 24 artists and learn more about their sand-sculpting skills.

See the Schedule

In addition to the main competition, there are several fun activities for all ages. Over the weekend, guests take sand-sculpting lessons, see demonstrations, and hear live music on the main stage. Visitors can also vote for their favorite sculptures and meet locals.

Other highlights include:
Friday – Masters compete, concerts from noon to 5 p.m., quick-sand competitions (two sculptures race against each other to build their creations)
Saturday – Masters compete, amateur competition, concerts from noon to 5 p.m., amateur awards, quick-sand competitions, kids’ arts and crafts
Sunday – Masters compete, concerts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., grand-prize award ceremony
Monday-Tuesday – People’s choice voting, final sculpture viewing

siesta key sand sculpting festival

Photo: Crystal Classic

Where to Park, Transportation

Siesta Beach offers free parking all day, however spots fill up fast and parking is limited. Event experts recommend taking Sarasota County Area Transit, which offers pickups/drop offs at Southgate Mall and Pavilion Mall. A round trip costs less than $3 per rider. View more transportation information and schedules.

Shop Local Vendors

Located on site, visitors can shop for local products at the vendor village. More than 25 booths open, and they feature food, jewelry, clothing and apparel, and handmade goodies. This is a great opportunity to buy souvenirs or find a gift for loved ones.

Take a Break at the Beaches

Those looking for additional things to do should visit one of Siesta Key’s award-winning beaches. Three beaches are located on this 8-mile stretch of white sand and Gulf waters. Siesta Key Beach – multiple best beach winner – has sand that always stays cool, tennis and volleyball courts, shaded playground areas, and concession stands.

For a more remote location, visit Crescent Beach. This area suits those who want to watch picturesque sunsets. Or visitors can snorkel and dive at the Point of Rocks and see marine life and coral.

Located on the southern tip of Siesta Key, guests find Turtle Beach. This popular spot offers opportunities for boating and fishing at Blind Pass Lagoon, picnics, horseshoes, as well as proximity to restaurants and shopping.

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