FiESA 2011 - Animal Kingdom
This year, it's FiESA 2011 - and
it's the ninth time that the Algarve will have
seen the exhibit that's become famous the world
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Every year since 2003, Pera, in
the Algarve, has hosted what is reputedly the
biggest event of its kind in the whole universe!
This year, however, it's starting earlier than
usual - on April 15.
That means I've missed the opening
- drat! - since I wasn't even in Portugal at the
time. Ah, well - there are months and months left
for it to run, so I'll get there sometime.
You do see, throughout the
Algarve, the occasional on-beach display of sand
sculpting - and very worthy some of it is...
But for scale and artistry, and
breathtaking panoramas, it has to be FiESA 2011.
Nothing else comes close to the level of skill on
display within the roadside site near Alcantarilha.
Although I missed the inaugural
event in 2003, I've remedied that since by
visiting the exhibits every year, often more than
once, since I enjoy seeing the expressions on the
faces of my visitors when they get their first
glimpse of a FiESA event.
than life monkey
shows the fantastic scale and detail of the
from all around the world get together for
planning the site and then commence work on their
individual, and group, exhibits.
Last year's theme (see my Fiesa
2010 page) was 'The Living World' .
This year it's 'Animal Kingdom' (Animalandia).
FiESA 2011 - Lots and lots of sand...
... and little me among it!
Husband Nev likes to take a shot or two of each
FiESA that gives an idea of the scale. Usually,
it's little me next to some towering sand
sculpture. At last year's FiESA, he contented
himself with a panoramic backdrop that didn't make
me feel too insignificant...
No doubt, he'll amuse himself with another idea
to put me on the spot this year!
In case you're wondering, FiESA stands for "Festival Internacional de Esculturas em Areia"
or, in English - International Festival of Sculptures in Sand.
The Pera site isn't hard to find and (unlike
anything comparable in the UK) has lots
of free parking on the opposite side of the road.
It's only a few kilometres inland from one of my
favourite beaches (at Armacao
de Pera - also worth visiting when you're
over that way).
A recent addition to the FiESA plus list is the
liveried buses they introduced. If you're in the Algarve and don't have your
own transport, you can just hop aboard one
of the buses and pay a few euros to be transported
to the FiESA site.
A new bus -
They pick up from all over the Algarve: Monte
Gordo, Tavira, Quarteira/Vilamoura, Albufeira,
Gale/Armacao da Pera, Carvoeiro/Portimao
and, over to the west, Lagos. Prices range from 7
euros to 11 euros (half-price for children between
6 and 12 years). You just look for the FiESA sales
point near where you're staying along the coast.
If, unlike me, you've already visited FiESA
2011, why not
share your experience with others less fortunate
(so far)? Just use the contact form below.
You can even send in some pictures, if you'd like.
This, and some of the other
pictures on this page, were taken by friends
Pauline and Dave, for which many thanks, as I
still haven't visited yet!
FiESA 2011 Admission Prices
Considering the artistry on show, I always
think that the ticket price is very reasonable.
It's 8 Euros for adults, 4.50 Euros for
youngsters between 6 and 12 years of age, and is free for
children up to 5 years. Over-65s qualify for a 15% discount,
which I calculate makes a ticket 6.8 Euros.
Visitors can come and go all day, so you can check out the sculptures in daylight,
then head off for dinner somewhere nice, returning
afterward to enjoy the different experience of
under the stars, with mood music, live bands, circus
acts and, of course, the illuminated exhibits.
If you can find a copy of the
English-language newpaper "The Portugal News"
(check out any Turismo office) you get a coupon for a 10% discount on a
Fiesa 2011 visit (covers up to 5 adults per coupon).
Latest news: If you happen across a
Continente supermarket (as you surely must -
they're everywhere!) you can pick up a leaflet
there, too, which gives the same discount of 10%
for up to 5 persons.
I'll be listing my top exhibits here, if you'd
like to come back and check them out. But don't
forget to send me your own favourites (pictures and a bit about why
you liked them) using the form below and you can feature on
an Algarve Beach Life page!
Apart from the artistry, there's always some
whimsy to enjoy. At least one of the sand sculptors is
of cats, and has fun slipping them into exhibits.
I always take a slow walk around the arena and try
to spot them all. Wonder if there'll be any this
FiESA 2011 is open from 10.00 to midnight, from
15 April to 15 October.
A sand artist
As always, younger visitors can receive free lessons in sand sculpting
(advertised times only)
but there are plenty of other amusements,
and lots of shaded areas where adults can stay cool with a drink
No-one I know who's visited has
mentioned seeing any cats hidden within the
exhibits, but this year's bit of fancifulness did
feature in friends Dave and Pauline's snaps of
FiESA 2011. I've often wondered whether pigeons
do, in fact, read books like that...
A Fond Hope...
... is that the toilet facilities will have
improved this year. Eight years of doubts about hygiene
have ensured that I make sure I've used some more
sophisticated facilities before I venture into the FiESA
site to spend a few hours. You have been warned!
(And if there's ever a school party on site when
you visit, get there first, since the teachers get
the little dears to go on a rota basis! Being a
Brit, I was born to queue, but there are limits!)
Knick-knacks and souvenirs
Just through the entrance turnstile (a recent,
modern addition to the site) are stalls and tents
selling crafts, jewellery and clothing.
It's probably 'impulse buying' but I usually
come away with something that caught my eye...
FiESA 2011 - How You Saw It
I'm always happy to include others' impressions of
the sand sculptures.
This area is where I'll put the links to
pages that show what other visitors to FiESA 2011
(and who are also Algarve Beach Life aficionados)
thought about the sand sculptures this year...
One bit of feedback mentioned by several of
my informants is that some of the exhibits have
been preserved wholesale from last year (the
elephants being one). If FiESA 2011 is your first
time, you won't mind, but seasoned regulars might
think they're being 'jibbed' if this practice
continues or increases. Just one woman's opinion.
Please fill in this form if you want Algarve Beach Life to feature some of
your own impressions and photographs from
The final demonstration of sand sculpture will take place from the 2nd to the 9th of September, when some of the sculptures will be demolished and some new examples constructed! This, it seems, is the result of much public interest in the actual process of putting up such amazing structures.
Jan Zelinka, from the Czech Republic, will sculpt the final exposition of this 9th edition of the Festival.
The children's activities in sand sculpture, led by Lurdes Santos, will end on August 31st, with castles, animals and other forms suitable for children (aided by the sculptress).
This year, for the first time, the public will get to vote for the best sculpture, announced when voting ends on the 31st August.
Note that closing time will be 20:00 (8 pm) from September 15th.
That's the name of the company responsible for producing
FiESA 2011. Founder Alper Alagoz is a sand sculptor from
Turkey and apparently devised the
method of producing large, vertical sculptures of the sort that feature
so strikingly in FiESA 2011.
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FiESA 2011 to Algarve Beach Life home
Or, see other years' sand sculpture festivals here:
FiESA 2006 :
: FiESA 2009
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