See sand

Lange Voorhout is The Hague’s prime location, dating back to the 16th century. Tall trees cover a pedestrian boulevard.....



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… at which’s end lie the Winter Palace of Queen mother Emma. Through the gravel strewn tree tunnel the king travels in a golden coach to open the parliament every September. Winston Churchill and Mata Hari are just two of the guests of the legendary yellow painted hotel Des Indes on the corner. Grand buildings and embassies still flank the parallel streets.

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Four kilometers West and two decennia ago Jacob Pronk decided to entice the city folk with a luxurious retreat on the North Sea coast. He built a hotel in the fishing village Scheveningen. The village and the city expanded to one day meet up in the Scheveningse Bos. Still today many Dutchies are not aware that the two have become one with The Hague. This, the city is trying to change with the “Feest aan zee” (Party at the coast) campaign this year.

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One way to celebrate 200 years of the seaside resort is to literally bring hundreds of tons of it to the city center. Fill the sand into eight pyramid shaped wooden crates spaced 50 meters apart along Lange Voorhout. Invite eight of the world’s best in their game and let them loose with trowels, levelers, spatulas, sharp knives and blowpipes. Watch, admire and wait for nine days before understanding what is possible to make out of the world’s best sand. Persistence, perseverance and attention to detail are all manifested in what is left standing as a foghorn sounds.

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Perhaps half of the sand has been hauled away and the remains transformed into nine distinctly different and incredibly detailed pieces of art. The Dutch piece is there just for show as the host nation is not in competition. Out of the other eight all with different motifs and in distinctly different styles only one will be carved by the World Champion. The competition is friend filled since the artists, all with over 20 years of experience, are now pros and part of the world travelling circuit of sand sculpture artistry.

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In the hot June afternoon sun the jury call out two runners up and the winner. Whether one agrees with the decision or not a conversation is started and that is perhaps what it all about. Take a sunset stroll, under the leafy canopy on a balmy summer’s eve. Stop, admire and comment on the nine extraordinary artworks before it is too late as one day it will all be just sand again.


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