Think you’re good at building sand castles? You’ve obviously never ventured to Revere Beach for the National Sand Sculpting Festival, where the sand castles range from sand lions to sand turtles to massive sand replicas of Fenway Park. While these may all be sculptures made from sand, they are pristine enough to belong in a museum. This year’s four-day sand castle festival kicks off at Revere Beach on Thursday, July 12, but builders have been sculpting their awe-inspiring sand castle creations since last weekend. For a complete schedule of events and history of the Revere Beach Sand Castle Festival, as well as photos from last year, read on.

In this year’s ninth reiteration of the sculpting festival, there will be over 10 contestants vying for the $5,000 first prize. Each sculptor is given 12 tons of sand on an 18′ x 18′ plot to work with. They then have 30 hours to make water and sand become artwork. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., contestants poke, prod and mash the sand into their own creations, stopping only for a 45-minute lunch break. Once they are finished, they vote on each piece, discounting their own.

Below is the schedule for this year’s festivities:

Thursday, July 12

8:00 am -5:00 pm 
Solo Master Sand Sculpting Competition

6:00 pm -9:00 pm 
Opening Ceremonies

Friday, July 13

8:00 am – 5:00 pm 
Solo Master Sand Sculpting Competition

10:00 am – 10:00 pm 
Festival Open

Saturday, July 14

8:00 am -3:00 pm 
Solo Master Sand Sculpting Competition

10:00 am – 10:00 pm 
Festival Open
VIP/Sponsor Reception
Awards Ceremony
Fireworks Extravaganza

Sunday, July 15

10:00 am – 6:00 pm 
Festival Open

Below is a slideshow of last year’s sand castle competition.

While we were all stuffing our faces at Fourth of July barbecues last week, sand was being delivered to Revere Beach from Hudson, NH. Why the extra preparation you ask? According to the Revere Journal, this year’s festival is expected to house its most popular sculpture yet—a 100-ton version of Fenway Park in honor of the park’s 100th Anniversary.

Last year’s five-day festival pulled in over 500,000 visitors to America’s First Public Beach, an all-time high for the festival. Every sculptor from last year, except one, will be returning to the competition for another round. Typically, sculptors return year after year, attracting their own personal fan bases.

Revere Beach’s first claim to fame originates in its Coney Island status as an amusement park in the early 1900s. Its most popular ride was the Cyclone Roller Coaster, the fastest and largest coaster at the time. Its 100-foot vertical drop carried passengers at 45 to 50 mph through 3600 miles of track. Rumor has it that the Revere Beach park was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Disney parks of today.

While the amazing Cyclone is no more, the Revere Beach Sand Sculpture Contest is alive and running, as well as free and open to the public. Beginning at 10 a.m. on July 12, visitors are welcome to watch as world-renowned sculptors make sand into something even the Little Mermaid would be proud of.