It's all piling up for organisers of sculpture festival
THOUSANDS of tonnes of sand are being piled up on Weston-super-Mare beach ready for the annual Sand Sculpture Festival – with organisers promising this year's event will be the biggest and best ever.
Around 4,000 tonnes of the golden grains have been moved into the event arena with 16 artists flying in from around the world to turn them into towering sculptures.
About 30 large piles of sand – some measuring up to eight metres high – are being created on the beach.
Large wooden pyramids are being built to hold the sand which is being dumped in by digger.
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The sand is layered and then sprayed with water before being compacted by a trench rammer to get it into perfect carving condition.
Sculptors from America, Australia and Holland will be carving the sand into sculptures with the theme of Fun and Games.
The festival, which runs from June 1 to September on the resort's sands, has been taken over this year by sculptors Nicola Wood and Alec Messchaert. The pair stepped in to run the event, which attracts crowds of around 65,000, after North Somerset Council said it no longer had the funds or the manpower to run it. Sculptures will be based on games and toys of the past and there will also be a sculpture of the Queen to celebrate her diamond jubilee.
There will be sculpting workshops, live entertainment, food and children's activities and games. Expert sculptors will be on hand throughout the festival to teach visitors – including schoolchildren – to create statues out of sand.
A competition will also be launched for people to design a toy of the future which will be crafted by a world champion sculptor later in the year.
The festival started in 2006 with just one 30-tonne sand sculpture.
Organiser Miss Wood said: "We have worked on the event since year one and know what it means to the locals.
"We have always had our own ideas about the festival and are excited about bringing some new things to the event and we promise to make this year the one to remember.
"It's an event that brings people to the town and is ideal for children, teenagers, up and coming young artists that want to try their hand at something different and of course the pensioners that come here on holiday."
The festival runs until September 9 from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
Tickets are £3.50 for adults, £3 for concessions, £2 for children and £10 for families.
For more information visit www.westonsandsculpture.co.uk, call 01934 626982 or follow on Twitter at @sandsculptureuk or on facebook at www.facebook.com/westonsandsculpture.