The 2017 Sand Safari Arts Festival will take centre stage on the sands and streets of Surfers Paradise this summer.

The free event is headlined by the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships, drawing thousands of spectators to admire the country’s most talented sculptors as they intricately carve life-sized masterpieces inspired by the ‘Mermaids and Mythical Creatures’ theme over three days (10-12 February).

Visitors will be able to vote for their favourite creation, with the ‘king or queen of the castles’ announced at 4pm on 12 February. The awe-inspiring creations, each carved from 10 tonnes of sand, will then remain on display on the iconic foreshore until Sunday 26 February.

An initiative of the Surfers Paradise Alliance and presented by Streets Ice Cream, Sand Safari will kick off with the intriguing Sand Trail, which sees the art of sand sculpting extend beyond Surfers Paradise as more than 20 works of art pop up in hotel lobbies, libraries and shopping centres from Tweed Heads to Loganholme.

Expect the unexpected and prepare to be wowed as the UK’s renowned “inflatablist” Luke Egan (aka Filthy Luker) returns to exhibit his bold, playful and clever inflatable art interventions throughout Surfers Paradise.

Known locally for creating the enormous green tentacles that overtook The Islander during Sand Safari 2016, Luker has produced hundreds of innovative sculptures, among them giant squids attacking cities, diversions around huge banana skins and trees accented with oversized googly eyeballs.

Sand Safari is an interactive event with an array of free and fun activities for families and children including sand art and workshops on the beachfront.

A series of sand and sea-inspired art, from bold murals to art displays, will feature throughout the Surfers Paradise precinct to provide more opportunities for discovery and wonder.

Sand Safari will be held at multiple locations around the Gold Coast from Friday 10 February to Sunday 26 February. For more info, visit surfersparadise.com.