Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting event to return to Siesta Key in November

2020 event had to be cancelled because of pandemic

This 2019 sculpture, Sandman Rises, is by John Gowdy. Image courtesy of the Crystal Classic

After making the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce have expressed their excitement about being able to announce the dates for the 2021 event.

From Nov. 12 through Nov. 15 this year, 24 “premier master sand sculptors will be competing for 1st place on Siesta Beach,” a news release points out.

A visual and cultural arts event, the Crystal Classic has hosted more than 300,000 attendees since its inception, the release adds. This will be the 11th year for the festival.

“In only 24 sculpting hours, (spanning the four-day event), the master sculptors create sand masterpieces and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an amazing outdoor art gallery,” the release points out.

The event also features live music, “along with a large village of shopping and food and drink vendors,” the release notes. Among other activities are the popular three-day “Quick Sand” competition, sand-sculpting lessons and an amateur sculpting competition, the release continues.

Crystal Classic attendees dance to the music in the party tent. Photo by Studio F Productions

The festival will be open Saturday, Nov. 13, until 9 p.m., with live music by Fleetwood Max, The Definitive Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band, the release adds. A full, live music line-up will be announced in October, the release notes. “The party tent will be open and the sculptures will be lit through a fabulous light display.”

In 2019, the Siesta Key Crystal Classic generated approximately 16,000 hotel room nights and more than $9 million in economic impact for the community, the release says. That festival welcomed more than 40,000 attendees during the four days.

For those concerned about parking at Siesta Public Beach, where the event takes place, the free Siesta Key Breeze trolley runs daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., operating between Siesta Village and Turtle Beach. A mobile app is available to track the trolley in real time.

Additionally, new transportation on and off Siesta Key is available via Sarasota County’s OnDemand service. Customers can request rides via a mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices. Customers also may go online at or call 941-300-1553 to reserve trips. “OnDemand uses accessible minivans and operates similarly to today’s popular ridesharing services,” such as Uber and Lyft, the release explains. The OnDemand vehicle will pick up customers and take them to their destinations within the same zone.

Visit for details about the 2021 Crystal Classic schedule. Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are also available, the release adds.

Abram Waterman and Walter MacDonald celebrate their top prize in the 2016 Crystal Classic. Photo courtesy Mote Marine

“The Siesta Key Crystal Classic is presented in collaborative partnership” between the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and the Siesta Beach Festival Inc., the release explains. “Our mission is to promote tourism, local businesses and the visual arts via the production of one of the most unique sculpture festivals held in the world on the #1 beach in the U.S.”

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Scholarship Fund for the Ringling College of Art + Design, the release notes.

For more information about the Crystal Classic, persons also may contact the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce at 941-349-3800 or email For video showing past festivals, visit the Siesta Key Crystal Classic YouTube channel.