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Italy’s amazing sand Nativity scenes in Jesolo

Jesolo hosts 12 giant sand sculptures this Christmas

Sculptors from around the world return to Jesolo, a seaside resort near Venice in north-east Italy, for an annual sand festival dedicated to religious art.

The 2023 edition of the popular event, celebrating its 21st year, can be visited until 4 February 2024.

On display are 12 monumental sculptures, made entirely of sand, depicting Nativity scenes as well as messages of peace.

The 14 participating sculptors from around the world have used thousands of tons of compacted sand to create their masterpieces which appear to be carved from stone.

Instead the works have been created with the most ephemeral of materials - without a drop of glue used - relying only on skill and water.

Sand artists at work in Jesolo. Photo Comune di Jesolo.

This year's event is dedicated to the first living Nativity created by St Francis in Greccio 800 years ago, co-ordinated by new artistic director David Ducharme from Canada.

Ducharme takes over from American Richard Varano, the festival's long-serving artistic director who gained global recognition in 2018 when he oversaw the creation of a giant sand Nativity scene at St Peter's Square in the Vatican.

Founded in 2002, the Jesolo event has welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors over the last two decades, raising over €800,000 for international charities and local associations.

For more information about the festival and for visiting details see the Jesolo Sand Nativity website.


Cover photo: Detail of Nativity (2021) by Susanne Marguerite, David Ducharme and Marielle Heessels. Image Comune di Jesolo - Avvenire.

General Info

Address Piazza Brescia, 30016 Lido di Jesolo VE, Italy

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Italy’s amazing sand Nativity scenes in Jesolo

Piazza Brescia, 30016 Lido di Jesolo VE, Italy

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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia