Angels, devils descend on Polish village

LANCKORONA, Poland - Wearing paper wings and tin-foil halos, hundreds of "angels" descended on a Polish mountain village over the weekend for an annual festival meant to rouse the sleepy locale out of its winter lull.

"I remember Lanckorona from a dozen years back. It was pretty closed off, the residents kept to themselves," said organiser Renata Bukowska, who launched the event in 2004.

She wanted to foster community spirit, promote goodwill among neighbours and give outsiders a reason to drop by the southern village of around 6,000 people.

"It's really the angels that opened hearts," the 48-year-old told AFP, saying the event has drawn tourists from across the country and even abroad.

This year, 412 people dressed as angels -- including the fallen kind, with demonic red horns -- gathered in the small market square in unusually warm weather for two days of music, socialising and chowing down on pierogi dumplings, sauerkraut soup and grilled kielbasa.

"It's the most angels per square metre in Poland for sure, and maybe even in the world," said Bukowska, wearing traditional garb, a red-bead necklace and white wings.

Standouts included an angel and devil walking arm-in-arm, a pug with wings, a German Shepherd with horns, a dark angel in combat boots and wielding a baton and a merry group of gothic angels.

"She's been preparing for this for a month," said Jan Pawlowski, 48, whose wife Anna chose the group's all-black outfits and was sporting the biggest black wings she could find online.

Pawlowski, a construction company owner from nearby Krakow, was rocking a long lace skirt, as was stepdaughter Aleksandra Nalepa, age 666 -- or so she claimed.

"Older than her own mother. That's how it is with these angels," Anna said, laughing.

"We're off to get some wine now. The devilishly strong stuff."

But not everyone put hours of effort into coming up with an outfit. US expat Darrell Woodard, for example, drove down from Krakow with his family.

"What do you mean? I have white on. Don't you see the feathers? Don't I look angelic?" the 47-year-old filmmaker quipped, defending his barebones costume.

Then: "This was all of five minutes," he admitted. "The time was spent on the kids."

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