Read all the details about this mesmerizing show preceding the London 2012 Olympic Games.

London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

The exploding fireworks display, marking the start of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be held in July 2012 in London. An astounding number of people (approximately 15% of the population across the world) are expected to witness this spectacular event on their television sets. Steven Daldry, of "Billy Elliot" fame and executive director of the Opening and Closing ceremonies of London 2012's Olympic games, observed that the task of prepping for one of the greatest shows on earth with a budget of £81million was comparable to the work and efforts that can reproduce 165 West End musicals at the same time. The venue for this spectacular event is London, a beautiful city also known as the "multicultural city of the world". It is known fact that come July 2012 and London will play host to welcome representatives from the 204 participating countries. Hence, the National Olympic Committees have made sure that the ceremonies represent each of those countries in one way or the other.

The London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) has now got an official confirmation that the royal couple - Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh - will inaugurate the Paralympic Games in the Olympic Stadium on 29 July 2012. More than a billion pairs of eyes will be on London this day for the Opening Ceremony conducted under the art direction of Danny Boyle, of Slumdog Millionaire fame. This year's London 2012's opening ceremony will be its 30th Olympiad. It will provide a platform for the world to view the creative expression of Danny Boyle and his team and the culture of its Host City and the UK. Europe's largest bell will ring a start to the £27m ceremony which is said to be inspired by Shakespeare and features NHS nurses and 900 local students. The show's art direction boasts of its association with Oscar winning director Danny Boyle, who was inspired to create 'Isles of Wonder' theme for the ceremony by Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. This Opening Ceremony is marked by certain elements that are a must for every Olympics ceremony and they are laid out in the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Olympic Charter. The essentials of an Olympic Opening Ceremony, as per the IOC's charter are:

Receiving The Head Of State Of The Host Country
It is customary that the President of the IOC and the Chairperson of the Organizing Committee receive the Head of State of the host country at the arrival gate of the Olympic Stadium. This year, for the London 2012, the Queen will be greeted by Jacques Rogge and Sebastian Coe.

Parade Of Athletes
One of the most talked about event of the ceremony, the Parade of Athletes, is a convoy of the teams taking part in the Olympics. These teams parade around in the Stadium in an orderly fashion with one nation following another. All the teams, except for the Greek team that always enters first and the host team that enters last, are arranged in an alphabetical order depending upon the national language of the host country.

The next step in the ceremony is a speech by LOCOG Chairperson Sebastian Coe which is scheduled to happen as soon as the teams enter the stadium. This speech shall be followed by an address by the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, who would wrap up his speech by asking the Head of State to officiate the opening of the games.

Playing The Olympic Anthem And The Entry And Raising Of The Olympic Flag
Soon after the Head of State declares open the Games, the Olympic Flag will be brought out into the Stadium and lifted into the air on the flag post; simultaneously the Olympic Anthem will also be played in the background. According to the charter, the Olympic flag must 'fly for the entire duration of the Olympic Games from a flagpole placed in a prominent position in the main Stadium'.

This is a very symbolic part of the ceremony where the flag-bearing representatives of all participating countries stand surrounding the rostrum in a circle. One of the participating athletes along with a judge and a coach from the Host Nation come forward onto the rostrum and take an oath of fair play and fair judgment, all the while holding the Olympic flag with their left hand while the right hand stays raised.

The Torch And Lighting Of The Cauldron
The opening ceremony comes to a close with the torch lighting. The Olympic Flame is brought into the stadium, by passing it through the hands of the athletes, to the final Torchbearer who walks up to the Olympic Cauldron and ritually lights it. This symbolic lighting of the Flame represents the commencement of the Games and stays alit for the entire duration of the Olympic event.

Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony
The creative minds of Prominent British creative genius, Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey MBE, will create magic at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The Paralympic Charter sets the protocol of a Paralympic Opening Ceremony which bears a close resemblance to the Olympic Games opening ceremony. To begin the games, the flags of the Paralympic and Host Nation are raised high. Then, another athletes' parade takes place where the nations are arranged in an alphabetic order in the language of the Host Nation. Following this, a speech will be delivered by Sir Philip Craven, the President of the IPC, and Sebastian Coe, the Chairperson of the OCOG. The official announcement of the opening of the Games is made and nation representatives, comprising of the athletes and judges, begin to take the oaths. Just like the Olympic Flame, the Paralympic Flame is also carried into the Stadium and is delivered on till it is in the hands of the final Torchbearer, who sets the Paralympic Flame in the Cauldron alit. This lighting of the symbolic flame is followed by an enthralling array of creative performances like dance, music and other such pieces. This year, it will include colorful dances, vibrant fireworks and musical acts by famous singers and musicians with the special highlight being the fireworks representing the Olympic rings.

Interesting facts about London 2012 Opening ceremonies
  • Total of 15,000 volunteers
  • 23,000 outfits
  • music playing up to 12 hours
  • 60 musicians
  • A staging covering 15,000 sq. meter
  • 13,000 props
  • 500 speakers connected to a million watt PA systems