1. Clearwater

It's our turn: Amateurs get a crack at competing in Clearwater's Sugar Sand Festival

The Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival runs through April 28 on Clearwater Beach. 1,000 tons of Clearwater Beach’s world famous sugar sand has been carved to create the exhibit displayed in a 15,000-square-foot tent. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2016)]
Published Apr. 12

CLEARWATER — For six years now, we've watched professionals use sand to create art at the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival. They've made mermaids and Bob Marley and Lady Gaga and castles in the sand.

Now it's our turn.

For the first time, the festival has added both a Pro-Am Sand Sculpting Tournament on Saturday and a Family Sand Sculpting Tournament on Sunday. Both are free to enter and free to watch.

If you have some serious shovel skills, now is the time to show them off.

The festival has become so popular it has expanded to 17 days this year to absorb the more than 120,000 people expected to tour the giant tent on the beach full of professional sand sculptures.

Saturday it is holding its first Pro-Am from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the beach near Pier 60. The tournament will combine teams of professional and amateur sculptors competing for best design and execution. If you want to compete, email to register, and it's free to enter.

The family sand-sculpting contest on Easter Sunday is also free, no registration required. Show up around 1:45 p.m., and the contest begins at 2 p.m. at the Camp Hyatt Sand Box.

If you want to see the professional sculptures, it's $10 for adults; $8 children 4-10; and free for 3 and younger. Buy tickets in advance online at and you get a separate, "fast lane-entrance."

The ticketed exhibit has a new theme each year and now it's "Sea the World, A Journey around the Globe," with renowned landmarks made out of sand. There are also free concerts on the beach on the weekends, and a fireworks show on Saturday night.

The festival opens at 10 a.m. daily through April 28 at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at Follow @SharonKWn.


  1. Scientology’s international spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater is anchored by the Flag Building, on left. An elevated walkway connects the building to the Fort Harrison Hotel, the church’s first purchase in the city in 1975. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The mysterious deals could reshape downtown Clearwater.
  2. Clearwater City Council members react to Tampa Bay Times reporting showing companies tied to members of Scientology bought 101 acres of downtown commercial property in three years. Times  |   (2017)
    We showed the politicians a map of the land now owned by buyers tied to Scientology. Here’s what they said.
  3. About 400 demonstrators protest the Church of Scientology in front of City Hall in April 1980. The church has a complicated history with the city, from its secret arrival in 1975 to its recent flood of downtown property purchases. PIERSON, DAVE  |  St. Petersburg Times
    The church arrived in secret in 1975. Here’s what happened next.
  4. The church has amassed 60 properties in Pinellas County since arriving in 1975.
  5. Fin is Pinellas County's Pet of the Week. Friends of Strays Animal Shelter
    The 4-year-old mixed breed is available for adoption at Friends of Strays Animal Shelter
  6. A semi-trailer truck fell onto an SUV on Interstate 4 on Friday night after a reported tornado touched down and crossed the highway near Lakeland. No one was injured. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    A tornado caused damage and power loss but no injuries in Pinellas County. In Polk County, I-4 drivers were fortunate no one was injured when another tornado crosses the interstate.
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The 63-year-old crossing guard was hospitalized, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  8. The Whole Coffee Company makes Dunkin’-branded Coffee Thins as well as Tim Hortons Double Double bars and its own Whole Coffee Company-branded nudge coffee bars. (Photo courtesy The Whole Coffee Company) The Whole Coffee Company
    The Whole Coffee Company, which is based in Miami, was previously known as Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa. ProspEquity Partners of Tampa owns a majority stake in Whole Coffee.
  9. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a three-vehicle crash that took place in Palm Harbor along Tampa Road just west of Lake St. George Drive. A 43-year-old woman was killed in the crash. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    A 43-year-old woman died from her injuries. The cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol.
  10. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs, at 230 Grand Blvd., has reopened to the public following a six-year restoration effort that started as a sinkhole repair in 2013. Jeff  Rosenfield
    The Unitiarian Universalist Church opens to the public after a six-year restoration project.