The beginnings of the festival can be traced back to 2007. Looking back at the success of the International Ice Sculpture Festival and the large number of visitors, the "Kultūra" institution, following the development trends of the ice and sand art festival movement, organized a sand sculpture festival for the first time in Latvia.

Jelgava city's municipal institution "Kultūra" organizes the International Ice Sculpture Festival, which annually surprises the audience with works of ice art. This festival has grown and developed over the years, gaining recognition and good reviews from the audience, foreign artists and other ice festivals. Most ice festival organizers and sculptors work in the field of sand sculpting during the summer season. That is why the movement of Ice and Sand sculpture festivals in the world, which is very popular in ice art superpowers, has been successfully developing for a long time.

We had accumulated experience while organizing the Ice Sculpture Festival and, encouraged by the ice sculptors, we held talks with artists and curators of sand festivals in parallel. In the summer of 2007, the first sand sculpture festival "Summer signs" was held and it is the first festival in Latvia that continued the traditions of European sand and ice art superpowers in the summer season by organizing sand sculpture festivals equivalent to ice sculptures.


The first International Sand Sculpture Festival took place from July 2 to 7 on Post Island. Ice and sand sculptor Zigmunds Vilnis was invited as the artistic and technical consultant of the festival. Twenty sculptors from Latvia, Russia, Lithuania, Estonia and Great Britain created 10 two-meter high sculptures in teams of two. 

The themes of the works created by the participants of the festival were very wide, starting with naively childish characters, mythological characters, ending with stylized elements of nature and representations of complex decorative forms. The visitors of the festival were delighted not only by sand art works, but also by an ambitious cultural program, the highlight of which was the most ambitious fashion show outside of Riga created in cooperation with the "Tēma" fashion house. A 20-meter long "tongue" was created especially for the fashion show, which was followed by a sand sculpture. The sand sculptures were evaluated by the festival participants themselves, taking into account several evaluation criteria - creativity, technical mastery and artistic expression.


Winners of the festival:

1st place - Irina Chistyakova, Andrey Molokov (Russia) "Love"

2nd place – Sarah Kate Robinson (Scotland), Anda Lieģe (Latvia) "The Moon and the Sun rest in the waves"

3rd place – Andrius Petkus, Žilvinas Stonkus (Lithuania) "Raža".


In the second year, thinking about the comfort of visitors and participants, the festival was moved to the renovated and improved Victory Park. In 2008, Jelgava Castle celebrated its 270th anniversary and, celebrating this event, the theme of the festival was chosen - "Court Feast". 14 artists from Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Chuvashia, Russia participated in the festival and each sculptor created one sculpture. 

400 tons of sand were used for the sculptures. In addition to the works of the festival competition, the artistic and technical consultant of the sand sculpture festival Zigmunds Vilnis and his colleague Ainaras Zingnik created the sculpture "Births of History", which attracted the attention of visitors with its volume and impressive height of 6 m.


Winners of the festival:

1st place - Tanya Kuznetsova (Russia) "Wheel of History"

2nd place – Andrius Petkus (Lithuania) "Architecture"

3rd place – Zīle Ozoliņa – Šneidere (Latvia) "King of Dzīru".


The theme of the third sand sculpture festival was "World of Wonders". The participants of the festival were invited to reflect the tales, legends and myths of their people while creating sculptures. In addition to the works of the festival competition, the first Sand bar in the Baltics was created, where you could buy refreshing drinks during the festival. 15 sculptors from Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Finland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy and the USA participated in the festival. More than 400 tons of sand were used to create the sculptures.

Winners of the festival:

1st place - Andrius Petkus (Lithuania) "Ikars"

2nd place - Anique Kuizeng (Netherlands) "Garuda"

3rd place - Niall Andrew Magee (Ireland) "Open"

3rd place – Jakub Zimáček (Czech Republic) "Valkyra".


The fourth festival was attended by 15 professional sculptors from 11 countries - Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Great Britain, Spain and Hungary, who created sculptures on the theme - "Travel in Time". In addition to the competition works, in honor of Duke Jēkabs, who celebrated his 400th anniversary in 2010, and his contribution to the growth of the city, a sculpture was dedicated - scenes from the most brilliant times of the Duchy of Kurzeme - Zemgale, created by an international duo of experienced sculptors: Andrius Petkus (Lithuania) and Maxim Gazendam (Netherlands). 450 tons of sand were used to create the competition works and additional sand objects.

Winners of the festival:

1st place - Richard James Buckle (Ireland) "1326 Days"

2nd place - Michela Ciappini (Italy) "Everybody's Journey"

3rd place - Irina Taflevskaya (Ukraine) "Summer Angel". 


15 professional sculptors from 8 countries - the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the USA, Russia, Hungary, Italy, Great Britain and Latvia - participated in the fifth sand sculpture festival and created sculptures on the theme - "Circus". The artists widely interpreted the theme of the circus in their works, starting with the circus in its classical sense and ending with the "political circus". During the festival, not only the competition works were created, but also additional sand art objects, the production of which started already after the Ligo festival. The beer bar was created from sand by Latvian sculptor Krists Zariņš, who two years ago built a sand bar in baroque style, but this time - as a traveling circus cart. In addition, a 6-meter high demo sculpture and a children's playground were also created.

At this festival, for the first time, the audience had the opportunity to observe the world's first burning sand sculpture created by Raimonds Cīrulis and Įrts Burvis. The festival won international recognition, and in 2011 it could be safely awarded that it has become the largest sand sculpture festival in the Baltics. 500 tons of sand were used to create the competition works and additional sculptures.

Winners of the festival:

1st place - Kārlis Īle (Latvia) "The dice are cast"

2nd place - Jakub Zimáček (Czech Republic) "Saxoclown"

3rd place – Uldis Zariņš (Latvia) "Ej tu nost"


The Sixth International Sand Sculpture Festival was attended by 18 world-renowned sculptors representing 8 countries: Latvia, Russia, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. Under the influence of the Summer Olympic Games, artists transformed more than 500 tons of sand into unique works of art on the theme - "Sports spirit".

Sculptors' interpretations and vision were very different - for some, the theme is associated with a specific type of sport, in which the sporting spirit is most clearly manifested, for another - with willpower, because it is a driver for success, but others depicted it as "money games" or "sporting spirit" see modern in social relations. At this festival, for the first time, the sand sculptures were lit up in colorful lights after dark. The shadows and colors of the lights make the shapes and textures of the sculptures more expressive, and the audience had the opportunity to appreciate the transformations of the sculptures at night.

Winners of the festival:

1st place - Joris Kivits (Netherlands) "Free yourself"

 2nd place - Donatas Mockus (Lithuania) "Titans"

3rd place – Ivan Zverev (Russia) “Matador. Dangerous games."


15 artists from 7 countries - Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Canada, Estonia, Bulgaria, the Netherlands - participated in the Seventh International Sand Sculpture Festival and created competition sculptures on the theme - "The Golden Age". 

At the seventh "Summer Signs" festival, residents of Jelgava and guests of Jelgava had the opportunity for the first time to observe the performance of the participants of the first large-format plein air ceramic fire sculptures held as part of the sand sculpture festival - ceramic fire sculptures glowing in flames, which were built from fire-resistant material - fireclay. In 2013, the family's favorite tradition of spending the first half of the day in musical play shows with various fairy-tale heroes and characters began. 500 tons of sand were used to create the competition works and additional sculptures.


Winners of the festival:

1st place – Donatas Mockus (Lithuania) "Eldorado"

 2nd place - Inese Valtere (Latvia) "Gold Rush"

 3rd place - Andrey Koshelev (Russia) "The time has come".


15 world-renowned sculptors from 9 countries - Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, China, Canada, Colombia - participated in the eighth International Sand Sculpture Festival. More than 600 tons of sand were used to create the sand sculptures. During the festival, the participants created sculptures on the theme - Cinema. Not only the competition works were created, but also additional sand art objects – sand bar, demo sculpture and photo sculptures. During this holiday, the tradition started last year - to create glowing ceramics or fireclay sculptures - took place in parallel.

Winners of the festival:

1st place - Inese Valtere-Łande (Latvia) "Alfred Hitchcock"

2nd place - Donatas Mockus (Lithuania) "Wild West"

3rd place - Andrey Koshelev (Russia) "Detective Story"


At the Ninth International Sand Sculpture Festival, participants created sculptures on the theme - Future after 750 years, dedicated to the important 750th anniversary of the city of Jelgava. 15 professional sculptors from eight countries - Latvia, Estonia, Russia, France, Bulgaria, Portugal, Turkey and China - participated in the festival. The International Sand Sculpture Festival in Jelgava has become the largest competition of its kind in the Baltics. 

In total, more than 800 tons of sand were used for the preparation of works. In parallel with the competition works, the largest demo sculpture was made, which was created by an international team of four sculptors over the course of a week.


Winners of the festival:

1st place - Agnese Rudzīte - Kirillova (Latvia) "Atlas of the Future"

2nd place – Aleksandr Skarednov (Russia) "The frozen past"

3rd place - Iryna Taflevska (Bulgaria) "Aspiration"


The theme of the festival's tenth anniversary was dedicated to getting to know Africa. In their works, professional sculptors revealed the diversity and richness of the nature of this continent - the country of animals and plants, as well as the culture and traditions of local peoples. The beauty of the African continent was discovered in sand sculptures by 20 artists from 10 countries: Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Turkey and Russia. 

A total of 15,000 cubic meters of sand were used for the creation of the sculpture complex, which is more than in other years, so the sculptures created by the artists on the anniversary of the festival were also more ambitious in terms of volume. The team of sculptors – Maija Puncule, Ainars Zingniks and Eda Kaytan from Turkey – under the leadership of the main artist Kārlis Īle, created the largest sand sculpture in the history of the festival so far, which reached more than 6 meters in height and 20 meters in width.


Winners of the festival:

place Pedro Mira (Portugal) “Mother Africa”

place Andrey Koshelev (Russia) "King of the Mountains"

place Rachel Stubbs (Great Britain) “Majestic Noble”


In the eleventh year of the festival, sculptors from five countries created works on the theme "Theatre". The artists of Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Portugal and France freely expressed themselves in their interpretation of the theme from the sand, depicting the art of ballet and puppet theater, as well as circus and ancient Greek theater traditions.

Winners of the festival:
1st place – "Friendship" by Martynas Gaubas (Lithuania)
2nd place - Kārlis Īle (Latvia) "A lonely doll"
3rd place – Aleksandr Skarednov (Russia) "Actress"


In 2018, 15 professional artists from 7 countries - Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic and Russia - allowed visitors to look into the world of animals through their works. Sculptors depicted dinosaurs and lizards as well as bears, birds and characters from various well-known fairy tales in their works. The victory was won by the sculpture "The Red Book", in which a rhinoceros was chosen as the central image.

Winners of the festival:
1st place - Aleksandr Skarednov (Russia) "The Red Book"
2nd place – Jakub Zimacek (Czech Republic) “Snakes”
3rd place - Oleksiy Poda (Ukraine) "Friendship"


In 2019, the International Sand Sculpture Festival in Jelgava invited people to get to know the ancient world. Sculptors from Latvia, Finland, Mongolia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, Lithuania and the USA expressed their vision of this topic in sand art. Ancient legends were discovered in more than 1200 tons of sand.

This festival stood out with particularly ambitious and voluminous sculptures. Proof of this was also the most woven demo sculpture so far, which reached a height of 15 meters. It was created by one of the most titled sculptors of Latvia, Kārlis Īle, together with Maija Punculis, Ainārs Zingniks and Viļus Matutis.

Winners of the festival:

1st place - Irina Alimurzaeva (Russia) "Journey to Antiquity"

2nd place - Kevin Crawford (USA) "Tower of Babel"

3rd place - Munkh - Erdene Tsagaan (Mongolia) "Mongolian Zither"

Jury's Choice Award

Andrey Kokorin (Russia) "Wishful Mother"

Andrey Koshelev (Russia) "The First Traces of Reason"

Oleksiy Poda (Ukraine) "Time Values"

AS "Compensa" sympathy award

Ivan Fediv (Russia) "Cleopatra"

Promotion Award

Agnese Rudzīte -Kirilova (Latvia) "Hierarchy of Egypt"


The 14th International Sand Sculpture Festival will be remembered with a different concept. Due to the worldwide pandemic brought by the year 2020, the organization of an international festival had to be abandoned, replacing it with a sculpture park - exhibition created by local sculptors. Since this is also the year of Jelgava's 755th anniversary, a decision was made to honor Jelgava's historical values in sand art - the sculpture sketches cover various periods of Jelgava's history, starting with the ancient reindeer hunters, the Zemgali settlements on the banks of the Lielupe River, the takeoff of the first hot air balloon, up to the first sugar factory. to the great coat of arms of the city and to all the well-known Jelgavians, to the group "Prāta Vētra". The concept of the sand sculpture park was created by the sculptor Kārlis Īle.


The tradition of sand sculptures in Jelgava – 15! Celebrating 15 years since the first sand sculpture festival in Jelgava and continuing the format started last year, the most ambitious sand sculpture park - exhibition in the Baltics was open to Jelgava residents and city guests throughout the summer of 2021.

Inviting to get to know the historically significant achievements of Latvians in the world, in the sand sculpture park, such legends and inventions were on display as - the "Minox" camera created by Walter Capa; Crocodile Dundee prototype Arvīds Blumenthal; "Porsche" brand created by Anatol Lapin more than 20 years ago; Philippa Halsman, creator of portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Dali and Albert Einstein; Anna Kopčovska – the first woman who traveled the world by bicycle; The world's first hologram created by Jura Upatnieks; Mark Rothko; Tobacco pipe construction patent owner Kārlis Pētersons and others.

The largest and most voluminous work of art in 2021 was one of the park's demo sculptures - the image of basketball player Kristaps Porzingis, reaching a height of almost eight meters. Also, the big coat of arms of the city of Jelgava, made last year, which was restored, was on display in the park.

Also this year, the author and leader of the park's artistic concept is one of the world's most renowned sculptors, Kārlis Īle, who is creating the park's exhibition together with six artists from Latvia and Lithuania: Zīli Ozoliņu-Šneideri, Maija Īli, Sanita Rāviņu, Agnes Rudzīti-Kirillova, Tautvila Poviloni and Martina Gauba

After the opening of the park, the artists, in parallel with the already created sculptures, continued their work on supplementing it with new sculptural works, allowing every resident of Jelgava and city visitor to take a look at the process of creating sand art.


15 artists from 10 countries participated in the 2022 International Sand Sculpture Festival, creating their large-scale works of art. The artists reflected 16 world masterpieces in their works.

This year's theme resonated with objects created by man, nature or the universe, which are unique to humanity, for example - the divine proportion or the golden ratio, the splendor of the traditional masks of Venice, the interpretation of Pablo Picasso's painting "Guernica", the Science Center in Canada, a chameleon that changes the color of its surroundings influenced and even modern technology.

The most titled Latvian sculptor in the world, Kārlis Īle, together with Maija Īle, recreated this year's demo sculpture of Michelangelo's work "Pieta" in a new form. The impressive sand sculpture stood 5.4 meters high.


The 17th International Sand Sculpture Festival gathered 17 sculptors from nine countries – Indonesia, USA, Mongolia, Spain, Netherlands, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. 

The artists created their sand works by reproducing world music hits. The theme reflected world-famous tracks like Hotel California, Somewhere over the rainbow, No Woman No Cry, Take On Me and more, visualizing the feelings of the well-known songs. 

The most ambitious work of art of 2023 was a demo sculpture created by Latvian sculptors Kārlis Īle and Maija Īle from the composition "Yellow Submarine" performed by "The Beatles".