Once upon a time… The Sandcastle Challenge

Everything began in 1923

The story goes back to 1923, when the newspaper Le Soir launched its first sandcastle contest, an artistic and technical challenge where participants had to design sculptures in sand.

There were three categories for all ages:

  1. Sand Creations: for children aged 5 to 7 and 7 to 12.
  2. Resistance Forts for Children: for teams of up to 6 children aged 7 to 15, led by a team leader. The goal is to build forts capable of withstanding the rising tide.
  3. Resistance Forts for Adults: this category is open to anyone aged 16 and older.

Numerous prizes will be awarded to the winners, with special distinctions for men and women.

🧠 Did you know? 🧠

The first edition took place on the Kursaal beach in Ostend.

   « Children, by the thousands, dug into the sand like beautiful devils, joyfully shoveling to create castles as tall as possible. Then, it was the wait for the slowly rising tide. The first collapses, the worried, desperate, delighted looks… And finally, it was the prize-giving by commissioners as serious as popes.»

Jean-Marie Wynants, journaliste et Le Soir

1928 – 1976

Starting in 1928, the contest gained momentum and became the famous “Resistance Forts Contest” on the beach of Knokke. Teams built forts, true bastions of sand around a stake, and tried to make them withstand the rising waves for as long as possible.

This contest is distinguished by its exceptional duration of two months, spanning July and August, with an average of 16 events spread throughout the season. The Resistance Forts Contest takes place on various beaches along the Belgian coast, creating a dynamic and festive atmosphere at each stage. This series of events offers participants a unique opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and ingenuity while enjoying the summer ambiance.

The challenge delighted thousands of children on Belgian beaches until 1976, with a final memorable edition on the beach of Koksijde.

🧠 Did you know? 🧠

In some years, there were up to 20,000 participants throughout the season.

1976 – 1983

The Birth of the Beach Weekend

In August 1976, a group of friends, including Jacky Ickx, decided to revive the sandcastle contest on the Lekkerbek beach in Knokke. However, lacking the proper materials, Jacky asked the newspaper Le Soir for help in obtaining stakes. This first edition was a resounding success. In response to this enthusiasm, Philippe Blaton, administrator of the Youth Group of the Syndicat d’Initiative et de Promotion de Bruxelles, proposed to his committee to take over the event.

Quickly, an organization was put in place under the direction of Baudouin Goemaere. Since this initiative, the contest has evolved to become a beloved tradition, bringing generations together around creativity and fun on Belgian beaches. This initial success laid the foundation for an iconic event, celebrated each year with enthusiasm and passion by participants of all ages.

1983 – 2008

Following the separation between the Syndicat d’Initiative et de Promotion de Bruxelles and the Sandcastle Challenge, on December 20, 1983, the event became associated with the organization Bruxelles Animation. This association was founded by Baudouin Goemaere, Anne Bigwood, and other visionaries.

Years of Glory

Gradually, the Beach Week-End transforms into a spectacular event, attracting over 125 teams and 1500 participants along more than a kilometer of beach, while thousands of spectators gather to witness this grand gathering.

Partnership with Donaldson

In 1998, the Sandcastle Challenge is at its peak. The partnership between Bruxelles Animation and Donaldson is a hit, much to the delight of participants, young and old.

For over 30 years, the Beach Week-End has managed to create a unique alchemy, leaving unforgettable memories for three generations of holidaymakers in Zoute. The event has grown to such an extent that the event agency Cre-Action stepped in to give it a true event dimension. This partnership came to an end in 2008 with a final edition organized by Bruxelles Animation and Cre-Action.

🧠 Did you know? 🧠

In 1994, the start was signaled by a green rocket, and the finish was marked by a red rocket.

Since 2009

Since 2009, it’s the Knokke Out group, now renamed Tero, that has taken up this magnificent torch. Despite the event’s decline between 2008 and 2010, the Tero group managed to restore the well-deserved prestige to this unique and family-oriented event. The number of participants has surged from 450 to over 1000 by 2023, much to everyone’s delight.

No! Sandcastles are not dead; they still have a bright future ahead of them.

In 2023, a very significant event marks the history of the Sandcastle Challenge: the contest celebrates its 100th anniversary at the River Woods Beach Club. This edition marked the occasion with 1000 participants (100 castles for 100 years), all with stars in their eyes.

The flame of the Sandcastle Challenge is in good hands with the Tero group, sharing the essential values of family, friendship, and passion.

If you’d like to share your experience with our challenge, don’t hesitate to contact us at our email address: hello@sportero.be ✉️