It’s been one of those things that we have been meaning to visit every year – the International Sand Sculpture Festival near Guia – and this year we had friends staying with us who wanted to go as well – so off we went!
The ‘Fiesa’ is now in its 11th year, and each year since 2003 it has given the Algarve 5 months of entertainment – with a different theme each year! It also appears to be getting bigger and better each year too – so what better time than now for us to go and explore this outdoor event.
The official website ‘Fiesa’ describes the scale of the event – forty thousand tons of sand, which are carved annually by fifty artists, national and international, covering a construction area of 15,000 m2, with sculptures that reach twelve feet tall. The exhibition is the work of a professional company ‘Prosandart’ and you can click the link on their name if you want to read more about how the works are formed.
I have tried – and failed – to understand exactly how they are made – and more importantly – how they manage to stand so magnificently for five months! It appears to need sand and water – which is compressed many times in moulds – and then formed into the shapes – and you need special sand – but anything more technical than that remains a mystery to me!
Perhaps however it is better that way – then you are free to just wander around the impressively large site enjoying the experience and marvelling at the sculptures!
The theme this year is Music in all its guises – and is a broad and engaging theme as you wander round trying to name all of the characters on display:
The range is impressive – from classical music, musical theatre, films, gospel music, religion, modern pop bands, jazz and the cinema, the circus, and even Greek gods. There’s even room for Johnny Depp in the film section!
There are signs as you travel around the site explaining the different genres and themes for you:
And there are also signs with the names of the sculptors and their nationalities which is a nice touch:
The magic begins as dusk falls and the lights are switched on, bathing the sculptures in coloured lights and highlighting their features and faces to great effect:
The detail on some of the statues is really impressive:
One of my favourites was actually a relief figure of Madonna which was spectacular lit up:
A word of warning – wear shoes that you can rinse off or clean easily – you will need to as the ground is very dusty! Also we had a very bad case of mosquitoes that swarmed around us as the light dropped – which was a shame as dusk really is the best time to visit this event – so that you can see the detail on the statues before the light goes – and then enjoy the light show as it gets dark. So make sure you take some mozzie repellant!
The exhibition is open every day between May 25 and October 25 – although watch out for the different closing times through the season:
Between May 25 and June 27 they are open from 10am until 10pm.
Between June 28 and September 15 from 10am until Midnight.
Between September 16 and October 25 from 10am until 8pm.
It takes about an hour and a half to walk around and enjoy all that the exhibition has to offer – and it’s very easy to find yourself going back round again! There is also a fast food stall and a selection of picnic tables and seating – complete with a sand pit to play in of course!
There is also a small selection of stalls selling local crafts and goods at the exit too which are well worth browsing – we were tempted in several of them!
Prices are reasonable – children up to 5 are free, from 6-12 years they are € 4.50 and adults are € 9. Over 65s get a 15% discount. Most supermarkets have a leaflet advertising the event with a 10% discount offer.
The location is easy to find on the map, situated between Pêra and Algoz – just follow the signs from the N125.
It’s well worth a visit!
For more examples of days out and things to do on the Algarve – you might enjoy reading our post The 7 day holiday guide to the Algarve – and if you have been to the Sand Sculpture Festival do let us know what you thought of it in the comments below!
OH WOW! I love sand sculptures and these are absolutely amazing! I’m going to add this to my itinerary, as we are hoping to make it over to Portugal before the end of the exhibition 🙂
Thanks for the info, Alyson.
you’re welcome! hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!
Really splendid !
they are amazing aren’t they?
Yes true I adore 🙂
Too bad! I was just in the Algarve visiting Restless Jo, and I would have loved to have seen this! It’s wonderful. I don’t understand how those sculptures have so much detail and stand for 5 months. That’s amazing. I guess it never rains there? 🙂
Your pictures are great!
thank you – sorry you missed them – the company’s website reckons that they can withstand wind and rain … not that we have much of that in the summer months of course 😉
STUNNING PHOTOS! Love sand sculptures.
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
glad you like them! have a great weekend x
I visited Fiesa last year when I visited Portugal last July. I had visited years before when I lived in Portugal and it’s really worthwhile, stunning works of art! I also wrote a post about my visit last July.
ooh must hunt down your post then – feel free to leave the link in a comment!
I could never have imagined! The photos are wonderful and I’m so glad to have seen the sand sculptures through your eyes. They are completely amazing, and totally unbelievable! 🙂
glad we could share them with you!
Great guided tour, wonderful photos. I see photos from this every year and am always amazed. I think, like you knowing the mechanics would remove some of the ‘magic’.
yes I like a bit of magic and mystery!
Absolutely astonishing. Thanks for the tour.
Really nice Post. I live in the Algarve and I have been at the Fiesa almost every year. It amazes me over and over again. I also like to go in the end of the day, so I can enjoy the sculptures during the late afternoon, have dinner there, and then take another tour around the area with the lights on. Don´t miss the Fiesa when visiting the Algarve!
thank you for visiting the blog and commenting – glad you enjoy the Fiesa as much as we did!
🙂 thanks – glad you liked it – thanks for visiting and commenting
Great post! I haven’t been to Fiesa since Animalandia in 2011(?) which was very impressive. I was curious to know what this year’s sculptures looked like and I haven’t got any plans to visit the Algarve coming up so thank you for giving me a virtual tour. They really are outstanding, aren’t they!
your wish is our command! glad we could give you a ‘tour’ this year!
and do let us know when you are next planning a trip ‘down south’ – be great to see you again xx
I’ve been to FIESA but never at night – it looks impressive!
yes it was definitely better at night with all the lights!
Have never managed a visit yet, but after reading your very informative blog and seeing the stunning images, it will be a must in September. Thanks for the tip about the Mosquitos!!
you’re welcome! hopefully the mozzies will have all died by Sept!
Pingback: the algarve: an afternoon visit to alte « in search of a thousand cafés