London’s Olympic Stadium is turned from an athletics track into a massive musical show to celebrate the end of the London 2012 Games.
After the breathtaking opening ceremony a fortnight ago, the closing ceremony had a lot to live up to, with organisers stressing it was going to be a big party.
Celebrtaing British music, stars including Annie Lennox, the Spice Girls, Madness, Queen, Kaiser Chiefs and Take That took to a newly-made stage and played to a worldwide audience.
The evening began with the toiling of Big Ben before God Save The Queen gave way to scenes from Michael Caine’s The Italian Job and Only Fools and Horses.
British singer Emili Sande was unwrapped standing on a newspaper rubbish truck and performed the first song, Read All About It.
The stadium itself became a giant union flag which in turn was swamped by the hundreds of flags carried by each nation’s chosen athletes.
Following the flagbearers came many of the 10,000 athletes who took part in the Games. Wearing their medals they delighted the crowd by walking amongst them to the sound of Elbow’s Open Arms.
The most memorable achievements of the Games were broadcast onto hundreds of white wooden boxes while the music of Kate Bush played.
As is tradition the night also included the last medal ceremony as the winning athletes of the men’s marathon were honoured.
Huge cheers greeted British sailor Ben Ainslie as he carried the union flag into the stadium.
“Wow. This is it… The end,” Ainslie tweeted.
“We should all be very proud to have held the greatest Olympics in modern times. Huge thanks to everyone involved.”
Team GB ended the final day with an astonishing 65 medals, including 29 golds.
The ceremony also included an official handover from London Mayor Boris Johnson to the mayor of Rio, the next host nation in Brazil in 2016.
Countries across the globe have praised the Games.
Todd Ant, ABC Sports said: “This has been one of the best Games ever. I always thought Sydney (which hosted the 2000 Games) was untouchable, but I think it has been touched by Britain.”
Sean Fitz-Gerald, Ottawa Citizen: “If London welcomed the world with a flurry of questions from security to traffic, weather and labour strife, it will send the world home with almost nothing bad to say.”
Greg Baum, Sydney Morning Herald: “London, you didn’t half do a decent job. These Olympics had Sydney’s vibrancy, Athens’s panache, Beijing’s efficiency, and added British know-how and drollery.
“With apologies to Sydney, they might just represent a new PB for the Olympics.
“They were superbly organised. The Olympic Park’s setting, in one of Britain’s poorest boroughs, proved inspired.
“Some Olympic sites become wasteland after the Games. This one began as wasteland and is now full of possibilities.”
David Leggat, New Zealand Herald: “Hats off to Lord Coe and his Locog planning chums. They can put their feet up knowing London did itself, and the Olympics, proud.”
Anthony Faiola, Washington Post: “Like The Who and the Spice Girls on Sunday, Britons reunited over the course of these Games, showing the kind of feverish patriotism infrequently seen on this side of the Atlantic.