The Opening Ceremony is a celebration showcasing the best of the Host Nation. It also features a parade of all competing nations and the highly anticipated entrance of the Olympic Flame, which ignites the Cauldron and signals the start of the Games.

The eyes of the world will be on London for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Ceremony will provide an opportunity for the world to view the artistic expression of the Artistic Director (Danny Boyle) and his team, and the culture of our Host City and the UK. There are certain elements that must feature in every Ceremony, as outlined in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter. The artistic performance of the Ceremony then gets underway and welcomes the world to the London 2012 Games.

The name of the Olympic Opening Ceremony show will be ‘Isles of Wonder’ and the worldwide broadcast will commence at 9pm. The Ceremony will kick off with the sound of the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe, produced by the Whitechapel Foundry, and the Stadium will be transformed into the British countryside for opening scene ‘Green and Pleasant’, which includes real farmyard animals. The Ceremony will also include a special sequence celebrating the best of British, featuring volunteer performers from the NHS.

Executive Team: The Olympic and Paralympic Opening Ceremonies are being developed by world-class directors Danny Boyle, Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey and their teams.

Danny Boyle, Artistic Director of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, said: ‘Our Isles of Wonder salutes and celebrates the exuberant creativity of the British genius in an Opening Ceremony that we hope will be as unpredictable and inventive as the British people.’

Receiving the Head of State

The Head of State of the Host Country is received at the entrance of the Olympic Stadium by the President of the IOC. For the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, Her Majesty the Queen will be greeted by Jacques Rogge.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Games on Friday – being broadcast to an estimated four billion people – is inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and will, in the words of Danny Boyle, tell the story of a land recovering from its industrial legacy and looking to the future.

Boyle has been making changes to his Isles of Wonder show up until the last minute, but below are its central elements, which he said “salutes and celebrates the exuberant creativity of the British genius in an Opening Ceremony that we hope will be as unpredictable and inventive as the British people”.


At 9pm – moved forward from the original, and some might say apt, time of 20.12 as Boyle wanted the ceremony to be dark from the very beginning – Daniel Craig, the James Bond star (or a stunt man in his place) will abseil into the stadium out of a helicopter, and a 27-tonne bell will be rung to signal the start of the ceremony. The bell is inscribed with a quotation from The Tempest: “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”. Kenneth Branagh will then read extracts from the play.

A stage backdrop of hills, streams, meadows and a thatched cottage will evoke Britain’s rural past. The landscape will be dotted with live animals, including 12 horses, three cows, 70 sheep, three sheepdogs and a horse-drawn plough, along with milkmaids, picnicking families, an Edwardian village cricket team in flannels, caps and braces, and people dancing around maypoles.

At one end of the arena will be a recreation of Glastonbury Tor, with an oak tree on top and a festival “mosh pit” at its foot. At the other end will be a space for crowds recreating the Last Night of the Proms.

Boyle suggested he might even create artificial rain clouds for special effect, though these may prove unnecessary.

Background music is likely to include Land of Hope and Glory, The Jam’s Going Underground, and Chariots of Fire by Vangelis.


The arena is then expected to be transformed into a vision of the industrial revolution – the “dark Satanic mills” of one interpretation of William Blake’s Jerusalem – with performers dressed as weavers, miners, steel workers and engineers recreating the era when Britain was the workshop of the world.

Music is likely to include Lionel Bart’s Food Glorious Food, the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction, and the Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant.


It is understood a third “act” of the ceremony will look at the post-war transformation of Britain, with models of Big Ben and other London landmarks, and a parade of dancing nurses and ancillary staff pushing hospital beds to represent the NHS and the Welfare State. Performers, musicians, actors and trapeze artists will celebrate our vibrant creative traditions. Dancers dressed in Sgt Pepper-style uniforms will stage a tribute to the Beatles. Members of the London Rollergirls and London Rockin’ Rollers roller derby teams and burlesque dancer Persephone Rex, 22, are among those taking part, alongside 12,000 dancers, drummers, skateboarders, acrobats, and actors dressed as British historical figures, such as Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragette, and the Caribbean migrants who arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948.

Other performers will evoke the multicultural face of the UK, as well as recent political upheavals, such as anti-bomb marches and industrial disputes.

Music is likely to include Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax and Amy Winehouse’s Valerie.

Short films will be screened showing children from Edinburgh’s Broomhouse Estate singing Flower of Scotland, a choir from England performing Jerusalem, Only Kids Aloud singing Cwm Rhondda, and a choir from Northern Ireland singing Danny Boy.

Sir Paul McCartney will end the opening ceremony.

The show will be followed by the traditional elements of the Games’ Opening Ceremony:


The Queen, as head of state of the host country, will be received at the entrance of the Stadium by the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge.


The guest list for the Opening Ceremony includes some of the world’s biggest celebrities as well as more than 120 heads of state, in what will be the biggest gathering of national leaders ever held in Britain.

Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, will lead the US delegation. It is not yet known if Mr Obama will attend as well.

Also taking their seats in the 80,000-capacity stadium will be Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, and Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese prime minister.

The cream of European royalty will also attend including Prince Albert of Monaco, who competed in the bobsledding event at five Winter Olympics, and his wife Princess Charlene of Monaco, who swam for South Africa in the 2000 Games, as well as Queen Sofia of Spain, who cancelled her appearance at a recent Jubilee lunch following a diplomatic row over Gibraltar.

Swaziland’s King Mswati III is almost certain to be there along with at least one of his 13 wives. However, Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has chosen not to attend, in a move that has infuriated the nation’s sports officials.

Every living former British prime minister has been invited, with Sir John Major and Tony Blair expected to attend. But outranking them all will be The Queen who will officially open the Games. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, along with Prince Harry, are also expected in their role as 2012 Ambassadors for the British Olympic Association.

Among big showbiz names will be Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, David Beckham, who was among the ambassadors for the British bid to stage the Games in 2005, and Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench.

On Wednesday, two days before the official opening, Pitt and Jolie will host an Olympics party at the Victoria & Albert Museum in honour of Muhammad Ali. Prince William and Harry have been invited, along with the Beckhams, Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The number of heads of state expected to attend London 2012 will far outstrip the 82 presidents, kings, queens and sheikhs who went to the Beijing Games in 2008, and the 48 who travelled to Athens in 2004.

Locog – the London Organising Committee of the Games – has been working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to avoid potentially embarrassing situations that could arise if particular leaders are seated next to those with whom their nations have a strained relationship.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has indicated his desire to watch the judo contest, despite his hostile attitude to the UK. Another guest whose presence will cause controversy is the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is not subject to an EU travel ban, unlike the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Mr Ahmadinejad said he would fly to London the day before the Opening Ceremony to support his country’s 50 athletes. His decision follows Iran’s threat to boycott London 2012 because of what it claimed was the Games’s “Zionist” logo.

Security surrounding each head of state will be extremely tight with personal bodyguards and police outriders, as well as officers from Scotland Yard’s Diplomatic Protection Group – in their distinctive red cars – escorting them to and from the Olympic Park.

That raises the prospect of motorcades bringing London’s streets to a halt as roads are shut to allow VIPs to travel to Stratford. Special lanes have already been set aside along a number of key roads for official Olympic vehicles.

Accommodation will also be an issue. Mrs Obama and her family are expected to stay at the US Embassy, in central London, where secret service agents can more easily guarantee their safety. Many leaders will follow suit, though others, along with their entourages, will stay at London’s top hotels such as the Dorchester and the Ritz.

Parade of Athletes

A procession of the participating teams in the Stadium, nation by nation. Teams enter in alphabetical order, according to the language of the Host Country, apart from the Greek team, which enters first for the Olympics, and the team of the Host Nation (in this case Team GB), who march in last.


Once all the nations have arrived into the Stadium, LOCOG Chair Seb Coe will give a speech, followed by Jacques Rogge. They will end their speeches by inviting the Head of State to officially declare the Games open.

Olympic Anthem and Flag

Once the Games have been declared open, the Olympic Flag is then carried into the Stadium and hoisted into the air as the respective Anthem is played. The Olympic Charter states that each flag must fly for the entire duration of the Games – placed in a prominent position in the main Stadium.


A participating athlete, judge and coach from the Host Nation stand on the rostrum and, holding a corner of the IOC flag in their left hand and raising their right, take the Oath, vowing to compete and judge according to the rules of their respective sport,.

The Torch and Cauldron

The big finale is the entrance of the Olympic Flame into the Stadium. It is passed through the athletes to the final Torchbearer, who will ceremoniously light the Cauldron, indicating the beginning of the Games. The Flame will continue to burn for the whole of the Games.

Creative Team

A host of world-class British directors and producers are leading the artistic team to stage the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.


A total cast of 15,000 will take part in the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which will be watched by an estimated audience of four billion.


“Overwhelmed with all the responses!!!

Thank you everyone!!! I can’t even describe how it feels, how honoured I am to have represented Canada and the pride I felt standing on the podium.

PLEASE keep watching the Canadian team!!

These are truly AMAZING athletes who have given their all and they all deserve your support!!


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