Held annually in the Algarve region of Portugal since 2003, the International Sand Sculpture Festival or Festival Internacional de Escultura em Areia (FIESA), can rightly boast as the largest and the most famous sand sculpture event in the world. During the said year, a talented and innovative group of sculptors gathered together in Pera, from various parts of the world, with the intention to sculpt their creation in the sand and to arrange the first major sand sculpture event as well. Influenced by the novel idea, some local artists also joined them. The rest is history.
Under the open sky and a free theme, the team created a wonderland with their fantastic imaginative creations in the sand, based on history and art, fantasy and mythology, peculiar imaginary machines and some symbols of Portuguese culture, which they called The Land of Dreams.
Soon the general public became curious and hundreds of them started to visit the event for sharing a fun. However, they were taken aback and were simply charmed by the resulting effect of the Land of Dreams. They were moved and engrossed by the massive and towering sculptures created only with sand. It was totally a new experience for them, as it was beyond their wildest imagination. The skill, creativity and mastery of the artists were unanimously appreciated and acclaimed by the mass and the critics. In fact, the International sand sculpture festival became an instant hit and since then it has become an annual event in the Sand City, in Pera.
For the construction of the Sand City, every summer the organizer of the grand event, ProSandArt, transports about thirty five to forty thousand tons of sand on a beach, covering an area of over 15,000 square metres. The participants in their turn, creates a world of fantasy in the area by transforming the tons of sand into several three dimensional massive sculptures with meticulous details and scenarios insinuating to a theme. The organizer, ProSandArt, also organizes different sand and sculpture events in Turkey and Argentina, but the Sand City festival, the largest sand sculpture event in the world, ranks top in the list.
Denying the grueling heat of the summer Sun, more than 60 artists from all over the world magically changes the area of the festival patiently with their intense toil, talent and power of imagination. Some of their granular masterpieces are even twelve feet high. Many items in the festival can be usually seen in stone or bronze. Explanatory texts are specifically included in all the sculptures. As the arena of the Sand City is illuminated after the sunset, the whole ambience changes miraculously with multiple colours and shades. The kaleidoscopic lighting, replacing the harsh daylight, totally changes the perspective of the sculptures. Everything seems to be awesome, weird and amazing, which casts a mesmerizing effect on the onlookers.
At night, various cultural programmes are arranged in the festival area, where the visitors can enjoy their time, after the end of a long day, on the scheduled live music, dance, circus arts and theatre.