Venice carnival opens with traditional "flight of the angel"

A 19-year-old beauty contest winner swung off St Mark's Tower before thousands of onlookers, as the traditional "flight of the angel" spectacle marked Sunday the official start of the Venice carnival.

At noon (1100 GMT), Irene Rizzi plunged into St Mark's Square from the 99-meter-high monument attached to an iron rope, in the yearly re-enactment of a show dating back to the 16th century. She was given the honour after being elected carnival queen last year.

The ANSA news agency said the event took place amid tightened security, due to terrorism concerns in Europe. Police set up five checkpoints to screen people entering the square, checking bags and asking many carnival revellers to take off their masks.

The carnival, one of Venice's most popular events, runs until February 9. It includes masked balls, concerts and other festivities in various locations around the lagoon city.

Following custom, its opening was preceded Saturday by a procession.

Twelve local beauties - one of whom will be picked as carnival queen on the last day of the carnival - were carried by gondoliers into St Mark's Square, before a crowd of some 70,000 people.

Last update: Sun, 31/01/2016 - 14:05
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