One of my favorite things to do in the summer in Boston is to check out the sand sculptures at the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival. This weekend festival is held each year in July. In 2022, the 18th annual festival was held Friday July 22nd thru Sunday July 24th.
Before we talk about the sand sculpting festival, I’d like to go into the history of the beach that the festival takes place at, Revere Beach.
When the pilgrims came to America, they settled in Massachusetts so it’s not at all surprising that Massachusetts is home of many firsts. Revere Beach has the honor of being the first public beach in America.
Located just 5 miles north of the city of Boston, this crescent shaped coastline along the Atlantic Ocean was the perfect spot for a public beach. In 1896, three miles of private land along the beach was given to the Metropolitan Park Commission and landscape designer Charles Eliot was chosen to design America’s first public beach. Eliot trained under famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, known for designing New York City’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace.
On July 12, 1896, Revere Beach opened as the first public beach in America. On Opening day 45,000 people came to the beach. The beach became quite the vacation destination, complete with restaurants, ballrooms, roller skating rinks and even a few roller coasters including the Cyclone which as the tallest wooden coaster ever built when it opened in 1925.
But the popularity of Revere Beach didn’t last and in the 1950s, less people were coming to the beach, and everything there started to go downhill. Then the infamous Blizzard of 1978 destroyed much of the structures that remained at this once popular vacation destination. In the 1990s, the city began to revitalize the beach and while it isn’t a popular vacation destination like it was at the turn of the century, it has grown in popularity among locals in the Boston area. For people like me who live in the city of Boston and do not have access to a car, it’s a great beach to visit as there are not just one but two stops on the subway line just across the street from the beach. In recent years, there have been more developments opening near the beach including apartments, condos, restaurants and even a hotel.
In 2001, the Revere Beach Partnership was formed to help bring more people to the beach. The biggest event of the year held by the Revere Beach Partnership is the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival held each July.
As the largest sand sculpting contest in New England, the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival draws sculptors from around the world. This year’s festival featured sculptors from the US, Canada, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands and Japan.
The festival has taken place each July since 2004, with the exception of 2020 when like everything else it was cancelled due to covid. In 2021, it was held later than normal in the beginning of August due to uncertainty earlier in the year on whether they would have the festival that year or not. As of 2022, it was back to normal like so many other things in life.
The festival not only features the sand sculptures, but there are also food trucks and vendors, some of which give out free samples, like Yasso, which gave out free frozen yogurt treats. On a day where the temperature reached the high 90s, the free frozen yogurt was very much welcomed. There are also a couple of small carnival rides, live entertainment and on the Saturday night, they have a fireworks show. What better way to spend a summer night than watching fireworks on the beach!
If you visit on the Friday or Saturday, you are able to see the sculptors at work finishing up their sand sculptures which is always interesting to see. I usually attend on the Saturday for this reason, I really enjoy seeing these talented people at work! This year I attended on the Sunday, and it was a nice experience to see the fully finished sculptures and see which ones won the competition. Here are some of the winners below:
Each year there is a theme for the centerpiece of the festival, which isn’t part of the actual competition. This year it was a great theme for a travel loving person like me! The theme was Wonders of the World! It was fun to look at the sculptures and try and count the number of world wonders included! How many can you spot?
The details in these sand sculptures are just amazing, it takes the sculptors hours over multiple days to create these beautiful sculptures. Some sculptures are sponsored and are a great way to advertise your company. Yasso, who I mentioned earlier gave out free frozen yogurt treats, had a sculpture sponsored as did the King Tut exhibit which is currently taking place in Boston now thru October 2nd.
The weekend of the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival, I was reeling from a long week of dealing with an injured cat so that being said, my favorite sculpture of the festival was the Cats Mew as it reminded me of my poor hurt little cat Indy who I had left at home alone for a few hours for the first time in days. Luckily, he is fully healed and back to his normal self, my wallet not so much though.
The Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival takes place over a weekend in the latter part of July each year, usually somewhere close to the 20th of the month. Keep an eye on the website for future year’s dates. It’s definitely worth checking out if you live in or are visiting the Boston area. If you are visiting Boston it would make for a nice break from the busy city for the morning or afternoon. If coming from the city, I highly recommend taking the subway, the Blue Line (which just so happens to be the line with the least number of issues) goes directly from downtown via the Government Center, State and Aquarium stops to the beach which you can get off at either the Revere Beach (this is closest to the sand sculptures), or Wonderland stops. With all the new developments in the area, there seems to be less parking than in the past and the beach traffic is definitely something that is worth avoiding if possible.
Who’s planning to check out this amazing festival next year?
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