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Though sand sculpting festivals are fairly common, few are as majestic as the one organized by Belgium's Royal Sand Carvers Society. An annual tradition since 1997, the festival which received the 2010 Guinness World Record for the largest such event, incorporates over 150 sand masterpieces created by 30 of the world's best carvers.
The two-month-long festival that opened to the public on June 28th, has traditionally been held on the beaches off the coastal town of Blankenberge. This year, in an attempt to make the event more accessible to visitors, the organizers moved it to the pristine beaches near the more centrally located city of Ostend.
While in previous years the sand sculptures have ranged from fictional characters like RoboCop to real-life monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, this year's event is more focused. Entitled 'Disneyland Paris Sand Magic' it is a stunning replica of the theme park's Paris location using 8,000 square meters of sand and water.
Among the highlights are important landmarks from the most popular Disneyland attractions. Frontierland is represented by Big Thunder Mountain while Adventureland is depicted by the Pirates of the Caribbean. Then there Alice’s Curious Labyrinth from Fantasyland and even a sandy version of the park's latest attraction: Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy (Remy's totally Zany Adventure).
Of course, no Disney park is complete without its fictional characters - At Disneyland Paris Sand Magic you will find favorites like Dumbo the Elephant, Indiana Jones, Cinderella and her evil stepsisters and of course Minnie and Mickey Mouse.
For those Disney fans that are unable to make it to Belgium before the festival ends on August 31st, there is some good news - Next year, the festival will be dedicated to Disney's upcoming movie 'The Good Dinosuar and the year after . . . Finding Dory!
And if sand carvings are not your thing, you may want to plan a visit to Bruges, the capital of Belgium's West Flanders Province in January, and check out the equally impressive ice sculpture festival. If the 2013 event that featured 70 characters and scenes from Disney's hit movie Frozen is any indication, it is likely to be spectacular!
Resources: sandsculpture.be, BBC.co.uk