By Stephanie Chao, the Eye on Taiwan staff writer
The 11th Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival will kick off this Saturday, showcasing 76 local and international artworks on the extensive 3 km-long golden beach in Taiwan’s northeastern coast.
Upside down and underground sculptures will be presented for the first time in the event’s history, organizers said, adding the upside down sculptures will be added on top of existing structures to create a mirror effect, while the underground sculptures will be placed one meter below to increase the difficulty of the works.
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This year’s event, which will last until July 15, will give visitors a chance to explore the northeastern coast with the gold-tinted theme of “Sailing for Golden Sands: A Journey of Love and Courage.”
Tourists are urged to visit the festival by train, according to the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area, which oversees tourism in the area. Tourists can arrive at Fulong Station and walk for just five minutes to the festival venue.
Drivers commuting on their own are advised to park near four designated pick-up points to take a free shuttle bus to the event venues: Yen Liao Seaside Park (鹽寮海濱公園), Longmen Sports Park (龍門運動公園), Longmen Camping Parking Lot (龍門露營區停車場), Fulong Visitor Center (福隆遊客中心).
The shuttle bus operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the festival, with one bus coming every hour.
The international sand sculpture contest themed “The Floral Island” and held on Tuesday, April 18, will see 28 artists from 13 countries (the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, India, Russia, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Togo, China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea) to partake in the event. The festival will open as an oceanic journey for tourists to explore, with each section on the map showcasing sculptures from different islands.
Another creative contest, themed “Chess Island,” will kick off on May 19 for local participants. Altogether 20 local sand sculpture teams will compete on a sandy checkerboard.
The quartz sands on Fulong Beach — known for their great texture — are soft, white and delicate. After being mixed with water, the sands become highly elastic and easy to stick.
Fulong Beach is acknowledged by the World Sand Sculpting Association as Taiwan’s most suitable place for making sand sculptures. It is also the place of origin of Taiwan’s large-scale open-air sand art festivals, according to the organizers.
Fulong Beach is ideal for water activities such as sailing and canoeing, too. This makes it possible for sand festival participants to enjoy all kinds of watery fun in addition to appreciating impressive sand art on the beach, they said.
The festival, held for the first time in 2008, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Tickets cost NT$100 for adults, NT$90 per person for group tickets (needs at least 20 visitors per group), and welfare tickets priced at NT$50 for children aged 3 to 12, and senior citizens aged over 65. Identification to prove status must be provided.