The Four Ceremonies

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The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics “Isles of Wonder” was held on 27 July with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle as artistic director. The Opening Ceremony attracted a peak viewing audience of over 27 million viewers in the UK – around half of the population of the UK watched BBC1 live simultaneously.

A party atmosphere is a feature of the Olympic Games. Each Opening Ceremony fills the stadium with music, singing, dancing and fireworks to welcome Athletes and Visitors to the Games. The Closing Ceremony, in the same spirit, brings together all participants in a farewell party to thank all those that took part and to leave with a smile on their face.

Both ceremonies are an invitation to discover the culture of the country hosting the Games. Although most of the ceremony is creative and imaginative, there are some very strict rituals that have to be followed.

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The Closing Ceremony on 12 August featured a flashback fiesta to British music. Around 4,100 people took part in the ceremony, which was the most-watched programme of the year in the UK, just ahead of the opening ceremony. The live coverage attracted a bigger average audience than any UK TV show since modern ratings began in 1981.

The Paralympics Opening Ceremony on 29 August was also inspired by William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" and themed around the concept of "Enlightenment". Along with an extraordinary number of disabled performers in the cast, Stephen Hawking helped develop a series of messages for the ceremony and narrated "the most exquisite journey" in his own words, focusing on science and culture of the 18th century. Miranda, from "The Tempest", featured heavily, who "sees everybody but she doesn't judge".

The Paralympics Opening Ceremony on 29 August was also inspired by William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” and themed around the concept of “Enlightenment”. Along with an extraordinary number of disabled performers in the cast, Stephen Hawking helped develop a series of messages for the ceremony and narrated “the most exquisite journey” in his own words, focusing on science and culture of the 18th century. Miranda, from “The Tempest”, featured heavily, who “sees everybody but she doesn’t judge”.

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The Paralympics Closing Ceremony on 9 September was entitled “The Festival of the Flame” and directed by Kim Gavin. The ceremony was themed around festivals and the four seasons, and was set to live performances by Coldplay with special guests Rihanna and Jay-Z. As with the Olympic Flag previously, the Paralympic flag was passed to Rio de Janeiro on this final night of the London 2012 Games.

For a reminder of what it was all about, please visit the Official Olympic Movement and for official behind-the-scenes footage we strongly recommend the Ceremonies Explorer