London 2012: The Opening Ceremony

Last night the 2012 Summer Olympics kicked off with a huge Opening Ceremony in London's new Olympic Stadium, an event watched on television by an estimated 1 billion viewers. Performances paid tribute to British heritage and culture, from agrarian beginnings through pop culture successes like the Beatles and J.K. Rowling. Contingents from more than 200 nations marched in the athletes parade, and the evening was capped off by the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron, a performance by Paul McCartney, and a huge fireworks display. Collected below is just a glimpse of last night's ceremony, as the 2012 Olympics are now underway.
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1. The Olympic cauldron is lit during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, on July 27, 2012, in London.




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2. Sheeting is extended across the audience during the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, on July 27, 2012, in London.




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3. Actors portraying the Queen of England and James Bond arrive via parachute after jumping from a helicopter during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 27, 2012.




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4. Kenneth Branagh dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Britain's most revered engineer recites Caliban's speech from Shakespeare's The Tempest at London's Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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5. An actor scales a representation of a chimney during an enactment of the Industrial Revolution at the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, on July 27, 2012, in London.




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6. Newly "forged" Olympic rings light up the stadium in London, on July 27, 2012.




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7. Britain's David Beckham (center) drives a powerboat with the Olympic torch as fireworks are launched over Tower Bridge during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 27, 2012.




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8. Young actors perform as children haunted by creatures from British storybooks in London's Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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9. A giant marionette of Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter books makes an appearance in the Opening Ceremony, on July 27, 2012, in London.




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10. Actors perform in a sequence meant to represent Britain's National Health Service (NHS), on July 27, 2012.




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11. Performers dressed as the character Mary Poppins descend to the ground in the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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12. Union Flags, commonly known as the Union Jack, are projected on the Palace of Westminster next to Big Ben on the bank of the River Thames, on July 27, 2012.




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13. Actor Rowan Atkinson, known for his character Mr. Bean, performs in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 27, 2012.




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14. Artists dance during a medley of British pop songs through the years, in London, on July 27, 2012.




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15. Artists wear jetpacks during the Opening Ceremony in London, on July 27, 2012.




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16. A live tweet from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, appears in the crowd in Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012, in London.




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17. Fireworks on display at Tower Bridge on July 27, 2012 in London, England.




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18. Dancers perform during a rendition of the Hymn "Abide With Me", a memorial performance for "loved ones who could not be with us", and a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks in London in 2005, on July 27, 2012.




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19. Britain's Queen Elizabeth (center), her husband Prince Philip (center right) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge (center left) applaud during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.




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20. Britain's flag bearer Chris Hoy holds the national flag as he leads the contingent in the athletes parade in the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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21. People watch the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at a pub in London, on July 27, 2012.




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22. China's flag bearer Yi Jianlian holds the national flag as he leads the contingent who carry both Chinese and British flags, in the athletes parade, on July 27, 2012.




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23. Two members of the Montenegro delegation photograph themselves as they parade in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 27, 2012.




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24. Members of Canada's contingent in the athletes parade in the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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25. Members of Australia's contingent show off messages written on their hands during the athletes parade, on July 27, 2012.




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26. Flag bearer Mariel Zagunis of the U.S. holds the national flag as she leads the contingent in the athletes parade, on July 27, 2012.




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27. Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shahrkhani (background), the first female Saudis to ever compete in the Olympics, part of Saudi Arabia's contingent, take part in the athletes parade in the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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28. Fireworks illuminate the sky over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012.




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29. Spectators are illuminated during the Opening Ceremony, on July 27, 2012.




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30. An actor performs during "Bike a.m", part of the Opening Ceremony in London, on July 27, 2012.




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31. A wide-angle view of the Olympic stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 27, 2012.




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32. Muhammad Ali (center) participates in the Opening Ceremony, on July 27, 2012 in London.




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33. The final torch bearers walk through the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012, in London.




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34. The final seven torchbearers light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony, on July 27, 2012.




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35. Arms of the Olympic Cauldron rise after being lit, opening the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012.




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36. After the separate lit torches rose together, forming the cauldron, the 2012 Olympic Flame burns brightly, on July 27, 2012.




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37. Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012.




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38. Fireworks light up the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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39. Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, on July 27, 2012.




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40. A fisheye lens view of fireworks exploding after the Olympic cauldron was lit during the Opening Ceremony in London, on July 27, 2012.




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41. Spectators wave Union Jacks in the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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42. Sir Paul McCartney performs "Hey Jude" and "The End" in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 27, 2012.




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43. Participants gathered around the Olympic Cauldron in the Olympic Stadium, on July 27, 2012.




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44. A couple embraces after the Olympic Flame was lit during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 27, 2012.