Over 60,000 ecstatic fans packed the Olympic Stadium in London, for a historic three-hour celebration following years of intensive planning and preparation for the 2012 Games.
‘Olympic Games’ is an anagram of ‘Employs Magic’ and 'Slumdog Millionaire' director Danny Boyle was charged with overseeing every aspect of the Olympics extravaganza, which even included simulated rain to reflect the British weather.
International royalty and 120 world leaders were there to witness the proceedings, as were celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
The beginning of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament on Wednesday was the first official event for 2012, but the Opening Ceremony acted as a spectacular curtain-raiser, which was watched by an estimated audience of one billion.
During the show, there was a nod to the beautiful game with the early form of the sport being replicated on a village green, while the anthem of the English FA Cup, 'Abide With Me' was sung - as was the anthem of local Premier League side West Ham United, 'I'm forever blowing bubbles.'
Speaking about the show, Lord Coe, the LOCOG Chairman said: “It’s built around the athletes. The march through of the athletes is very important. The show will say a lot about our country, but I want it to be a dedication and a welcome, a British welcome, to the athletes of the world.”
“It’s the athletes’ night and they don’t want to rush of course,” responded Boyle. “There are 10,500 of them from 204 nations.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron responded by saying that the country must show the world "the best of Britain" over the next two weeks. "We have got a great past, a very exciting future and this is a great moment for our country, so we must seize it,' he said.
Real farmyard animals featured included 70 sheep, 12 horses, three cows, chickens and ducks. Music accompanied much of the proceedings, with Sir Paul McCartney the closing musical act before a spectacular fireworks display.
Ten facts about the Opening Ceremony
• One billion - estimated worldwide audience
• 10,500 - number of athletes taking part in the celebrations
• 62,000 - fans in the crowd
• 70 - number of sheep used to recreate British countryside
• £2,012 - price of the most expensive ticket on sale for Opening Ceremony
• 10,000 - number of professional performers who took part
• 23,000 - number of costumes worn during the show
• 2,000 - number of staff, crew and suppliers involved
• 27 - weight in tonnes of the bell that rung to mark the start of show
• £27 million - cost of the Olympics opening ceremony