Artist Nicola Wood puts the finishing touches on a sand sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Royal sand sculpture

Artist Nicola Wood puts the finishing touches on a sand sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II on May 28 at the annual Weston Sand Sculpture Festival in Weston-Super-Mare, England. The Diamond Jubilee celebrates the queen's 60th year on the throne, with activities culminating this weekend.

Now in its seventh year, the festival features sculptures crafted by 15 award-winning artists from across the globe.

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Artists Jamie Wardley and Jan Zelinka complete a sports-themed sand sculpture Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Sandy masterpieces

Artists Jamie Wardley and Jan Zelinka complete a sports-themed sand sculpture during the festival, which runs from June to September.

Over the course of nine days, the sculptors spend eight hours a day carving their pieces out of 4,000 tons of sand. These one-of-a-kind sculptures are surprisingly sturdy and will last for many months — even in the rain.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.