Dan Roberts is founder and Managing Editor at Travel Generation.Dan has spent the last 20 years working in the backpacking industry and travelling throughout the world including UK, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. ...Find out more!
I was lucky enough to be living in The Algarve, Portugal when the annual Fiesa Sandcastle competition was on - this was certainly one of the most special things I have been to.
Fiesa 06 was held in the town of Figuera de Foz, which is about 45 minutes by car from the popular backpacking party town of Lagos (my home at the time) and quite close to the more major town of Pera. The Algarve competition is one of the largest sandcastle sculpting competitions and exhibitions in the world with over 800,000 visitors annually and more-than 30,000 tonnes of sand used.
We arrived at dusk so that we could walk around while it was still daylight and then take in the sculptures again once it turns dark and they light them all up with a fantastic array of colours.
The theme for this amazing spectacle this year was “Mythologies” and it featured a whole spectrum of amazing creations from from the creation of Rome to the Fall of Mankind in the Garden of Eden, the Nordic sagas, the fall of Troy, and even the whole spectrum of Greek gods and goddesses. Each sand sculptures had small notices describing its theme (in Portuguese and in English), and another crediting the sand artists responsible for the construction. It really is a very professional exhibition (something not necessarily akin to Portugal).
You get a proper sense 0f the dedication of the sculptors when you see the huge Egyptian Pharaoh’s Empire that was then purposefully slightly broken to represent the decay of the modern phenomenon. It must be heart-breaking purposely destroying all that hard work - something that is done at the end of each competition.
Although unfortunately I have been unable to make this into an annual pilgrimage the Fiesa 07 (Maravilhas do Mundo) there was Wonders of the World and ‘08 was Hollywood - I believe both were equally spellbinding. Entrance in 2006 (as well as 07 and 08) was Euro7 - very reasonable for the experience.