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Destination: Clearwater Beach’s Sugar Sand Festival

Clearwater Beach | Sugar Sand Festival | Events

Welcome to Tampa Bay Adventures, a new TB Reporter feature exploring some of the unique events, activities and attractions the Tampa Bay area has to offer. If you know of an event that’s off the beaten path, we’d love to hear about it. Email us at

By SHELLY STECK REALE, Correspondent, TB Reporter

The Sugar Sand Festival creates art that wows but disappears with the winds and tides.

CLEARWATER BEACH – Mountainous piles of sand lie hidden beneath massive tents sprawling across Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60.

Eleven master sculptors brought in from as far away as Japan, France and Spain, work in secrecy to transform the 1,000 tons of firmly packed mounds into gallery quality works of art. Their masterpieces, now shrouded in secrecy, will be the main attraction at the the Fifth Annual Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival, a 10-day event that includes concerts, fireworks, movies on the beach, sand sculpting classes, street performers, demonstrations, artisan and crafters. The BIG REVEAL is scheduled at 10 a.m. Friday (April 14).

“We want to offer visitors a unique experience,” said Lisa Chandler, event coordinator. “What we create here, it’s a museum quality art exhibit. And the uniqueness is, it’s here for 10 days, you’ll see it once and then it’s gone.”

For now, the winding path between artworks is cluttered with trowels, shovels, brushes, pallet knives, and other unrecognizable tools. Emerging from the immense piles of sand are astonishing creations showcasing a display of imagination, detail and talent all revolving around the FantaSea theme: a magical adventure above and below the sea.

Clearwater Beach | Sugar Sand Festival | EventsIt’s not an easy task given the unstable nature of sand, which can shear off and fall to the ground.

“It happens,” sighed Angela Vomacka, assistant event coordinator for the event. “They’ll just pack in more sand, and begin again.”

Festival goers will have a chance to vote for their favorite sculpture by tossing loose change into the appropriate jars. The funds collected will be donated to Sandy Lane Elementary School.

More than 10,000 visitors are expected to make their way through the event each day, so parking may be an adventure in itself.

Clearwater Beach | Sugar Sand Festival | Events“We suggest people take advantage of alternative modes of transportation; either riding the ferry that launches from downtown Clearwater, or taking advantage of PSTA’s Suncoast Beach Trolley, Jolly Trolley, or Coastal route – available at any one of three downtown Clearwater’s free parking garages,” Chandler suggested.

For those who’d like to brave the traffic, there are three public parking garages: the Pelican Walk parking garage, the Hyatt Regency, and the Surf Style, as well as city parking lots scattered along the beaches.

Admission into the FantaSea Sugar Sand Exhibit requires a ticket and includes a complimentary photo. All other events surrounding exhibit are free. Exhibit admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, military, fire, police and teachers; and $6 for children ages 5-17. For $50 you can have a VIP experience that includes a ticket to the exhibit, a swag bag, beverages and access to a VIP tent with bar and lounge for enjoying the concerts and fireworks.

For detailed information on the event, go to

Aerial photo courtesy of the Sugar Sand Festival. Other photos by Shelly Steck Reale, correspondent, TB Reporter.

Clearwater Beach | Sugar Sand Festival | Events | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Destination: Clearwater Beach's Sugar Sand Festival
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Destination: Clearwater Beach's Sugar Sand Festival
The Sugar Sand Festival creates art that wows but disappears with the winds and tides.
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TB Reporter
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