'Flight of the angel' rings in Venice Carnival

Ms Claudia Marchiori, dressed as an "angel", descending on St Mark's Square in Venice on Feb 19, 2017.
Ms Claudia Marchiori, dressed as an "angel", descending on St Mark's Square in Venice on Feb 19, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
Ms Claudia Marchiori, winner of last year's 'Maria of the Carnival' contest, posing with the Doge after performing the Flight of the Angel, at the Venice Carnival on Feb 19, 2017.
Ms Claudia Marchiori, winner of last year's 'Maria of the Carnival' contest, posing with the Doge after performing the Flight of the Angel, at the Venice Carnival on Feb 19, 2017. PHOTO: EPA
Revellers dressed in masks and period costumes taking part in the Venice Carnival on Feb 19, 2017.
Revellers dressed in masks and period costumes taking part in the Venice Carnival on Feb 19, 2017. PHOTO: AFP
Revellers dressed in masks and period costumes taking part in the Venice Carnival on Feb 19, 2017.
Revellers dressed in masks and period costumes taking part in the Venice Carnival on Feb 19, 2017. PHOTO: AFP
People wearing costumes and masks waiting for the traditional Flight of the Angel that marks the beginning of the Venice Carnival, on Feb 19, 2017.
People wearing costumes and masks waiting for the traditional Flight of the Angel that marks the beginning of the Venice Carnival, on Feb 19, 2017. PHOTO: EPA
Crowds packing St Mark's Square in Venice as they wait for the Flight of the Angel, on Feb 19, 2017.
Crowds packing St Mark's Square in Venice as they wait for the Flight of the Angel, on Feb 19, 2017.PHOTO: AFP
People wearing costumes and masks waiting for the traditional Flight of the Angel that marks the beginning of the Venice Carnival, on Feb 19, 2017.
People wearing costumes and masks waiting for the traditional Flight of the Angel that marks the beginning of the Venice Carnival, on Feb 19, 2017.PHOTO: EPA
Revellers wearing masks and period costumes pose as they take part in the Venice Carnival on Feb 18, 2017.
Revellers wearing masks and period costumes pose as they take part in the Venice Carnival on Feb 18, 2017.PHOTO: AFP
Masked revellers posing during the Venice Carnival on Feb 18, 2017.
Masked revellers posing during the Venice Carnival on Feb 18, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
A reveller posing with a mask during the Venice Carnival on Feb 18, 2017.
A reveller posing with a mask during the Venice Carnival on Feb 18, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
Italian Carabinieri officers patrolling St Mark's Square during the Venice Carnival on Feb 17, 2017.
Italian Carabinieri officers patrolling St Mark's Square during the Venice Carnival on Feb 17, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

VENICE (AFP) - Tens of thousands of revellers in masks and period costume packed St Mark's Square on Sunday (Feb 19) for the "flight of the angel", the traditional opening of the Venice Carnival.

On the 12th chime of midday from St Mark's Campanile, Claudia Marchiori descended gracefully from the famous bell tower, attached to a wire 80 metres above the crowd that had gathered for one of the world's most famous carnivals.

Dressed in a leviathan purple gown with orange wings, she sprinkled glitter and confetti to the tune of Wicked Game, the 1989 song by American rock musician Chris Isaak.

The carnival, which lasts until Feb 28, is thought to have started in 1162 after a military victory. Abandoned for decades, it was resurrected in 1980.

Security was high at the event this year, which left some struggling to navigate the network of bridges and canals to the centre.

"I imagine those tourists who did not know what to expect may have had some difficulties in reaching this magnificent point of the city," Michele, an Italian visitor who was enjoying the show with his Latvian girlfriend, told AFP.