Fiesa 2007 -
I Wonder What Makes A Wonder?
I thought I'd make it along to the opening day of Fiesa 2007, but life got in the way (again) - and it must have
been the third or fourth day after its inauguration that I
managed the trip.
Strangely, for the first time in four years of attending
the sand sculptures exhibition near Pera, my impressions
this year were somewhat 'mixed'. Perhaps it was the theme, perhaps I'm becoming a bit
blasé after this many years of viewing magnificent sand
... but I felt a little disappointed.
Not that there aren't some fantastic examples of the sand
sculptor's art to see: far from it. Some of the sculptures
will still 'knock your socks off'.
Before I continue with what might sound like a
negative report, I should state that I met some people who
had never attended Fiesa before, nor had they seen sand
sculptures of such ambition (there are always a few
'amateur' versions on an Algarve beach during the tourist
And the thing was, all of the 'newbies' to Fiesa thought
the displays were fantastic, marvellous, stupendous... you
name it, they used an enthusiastic adjective.
splendours of 20th Century France, emphasising music and
So, perhaps I was, after all, suffering from some 'been
there, seen that' feelings, despite my eager anticipation of
The theme of Fiesa 2007 iss 'Wonders of the World' (Maravilhas
do Mundo). So, there were principally the well-known 7
Wonders of the (Ancient) World. The problem is, that only
gives seven exhibits, which still leaves a lot of sand left
over, from the more-than 30,000 tonnes that are used for
each year's Fiesa.
As usual, the event is well advertised, and helpfully
signposted from local main roads. You can see the flags flying while you're still a fair distance away.
There's plenty of free parking on the sandy lot on the other
side of the road from the exhibition space.
Another disappointment was the belt-tightening that has
resulted in charging for some memento items that in previous
years were free (like postcards and posters showing some of
the exhibits). True, the entrance fee has been held at 7
euros from last year (but it was 4 euros in 2004). And this
year, you don't even get a printed ticket, just a stub from
the cash till.
'wonder' was, why give so much space to Fado music?
Quite how you gain free readmission during the day (which
was possible previously by adding your passport number to
the ticket as you left, so you could prove your identity
when requesting re-entry) is a mystery this year.
Perhaps they've withdrawn the free readmission offer - I'll
have to check.
Another (perhaps minor) gripe was that not all of the
exhibits were complete. Indeed, some of them were still far
from being constructed. Since this this year's Fiesa opened
more than one week later than usual, I assume that there had
been hitches with the preparations. But, early visitors
might well feel short-changed, since they won't see
everything that will be on offer once it's all finished.
(Just to offer an alternative take on that, husband Nev
didn't mind, since he found it interesting to watch the sand
artists working on the full-size sculptures whereas,
normally, they just mess about with smaller demonstration
pieces, to show how it's done... Trust a man to argue!)
Nev, as close as he'll
ever get to Manhattan and Hollywood
Moreover, some exhibits had explanatory information only
in Portuguese. That smacks more of disorganisation, and this
time my chauffeur didn't have a different opinion - except
that he likes the challenge of trying his hand at
Then, none of the usual side stalls and attractions were
present. Normally, there are stalls offering a variety of
useful and not-so-useful stuff to visitors. There was no
bungee-trampolining area, as last year, to divert childish
Sadly, I have to report that the toilet facilities have
not improved from previous years. The portaloos are as basic
as ever, and the number (one Ladies, one Gents and one
Disabled) is woefully inadequate for the amount of visitors
the site can hold when busy. And if there are a few
coachloads of children seeing the sights, expect huge queues
outside the toilets and a fairly icky experience when you do
make it inside the facility.
Report card for that subject should read: 'must try
harder in future'.
As usual, the panorama
over the site was breathtaking...
Previously, there have been speakers hidden among the
sculptures, so that the music accompanied you wherever you
walked. I presume they may get around to installing those,
too, at some later date.
On the subject of music, there is normally a daily
'theme', advertised so that you can visit on a day when your
choice of music will be playing. Again, no sign of that this
Food and drink were available, however, and there are
shaded areas in which to escape the sun before sallying
forth to see more sculptures.
So - to the exhibits and what's on offer at Fiesa 2007
- Prosandart's claimed world-record-breaking event?
The pyramids of Egypt, the Hanging Gardens, the Collossus
of Rhodes, the Olympian statue of Zeus, Artemis's Temple at
Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Lighthouse at
As I mentioned a short time ago on my Algarve
Blog page, Nev was looking forward to seeing the
Hanging Gardens of Babylon depicted in sand. Unfortunately,
that was probably one of the more disappointing sculptures,
perhaps because of the difficulties of rendering such a
wonder to scale in so tricky a medium as sand?
Hanging around at
One piece that hadn't been destroyed from last year's
Fiesa was the huge Egyptian pyramids depiction, probably
because they had already decided on this year's theme and
knew that it would fit.
Another 'old friend' was a depiction of the Last Supper
of Christ, but this was different from last year's exhibit,
and was part of a celebration of the genius of da Vinci that
included a sand-based version of the Mona Lisa (quite easy
to differentiate from the original, as you might guess).
Exactly how many of these are represented I can't tell
you, since I don't know how to recognize them, and all
exhibits weren't identified. For certain, the pyramids, the
hanging gardens, the colossus are all there. The others?
What can you see apart from the ancient Wonders of the
Well, there are, of course, modern wonders to be
considered, although I'm sure opinions might differ as to
what those might be. (Internet yes, cellular phones no...?)
Even if you add seven modern wonders, that would still
only offer fourteen exhibits, so what did they come up with?
Wonders of Portugal, that's what.
Now, I live in Portugal, have chosen to do so, and won't
hear a word against the country (especially the Algarve
region), but it's stretching things just a mite to apply the
word 'Wonder' to many of the things that were chosen as
subjects for exhibits. Typical and representative of
Portugal yes. Wonders? I doubt it.
impressive, but Wonders of the World?...
So, will I go again? Undoubtedly... I'm bound to have
some summer visitors who've never seen such impressive sand
sculptures (few have). So, I'll be driving them along to
Pera and enjoying their gasps of wonder when they first
encounter the sights there.
No sign of last year's bungee trampoline -
Should you be going along if you're in Algarve?
Definitely; if you've never been to Fiesa before, you'll be
Just in case you've forgotten (or never knew in the first place) the 'Fiesa' bit stands for "Festival Internacional de Escultura em Areia", which translates as International Festival of Sand Sculptures.
Opening times are from 10am to midnight every day between
June 4 and October 4, so you can check it out whenever your Algarve vacation might fall.
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Return from Fiesa 2007 to Algarve Beach Life home
Or, see other years' exhibits here:
: Fiesa 2005
: Fiesa 2006
: Fiesa 2008
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