London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

Nikita Campbell from St Vincent submitted an image of volleyballers entitled ‘Keep your eyes on the ball.’  And Jennie Armstrong from Barbados depicted junior cricket at Kensington Oval between Combermere and Alexandra schools.  Nikita will travel from St Vincent to join Jennie at the Opening Ceremony celebration in Barbados on Friday evening.

Below is an op-ed from British High Commissioner Paul Brummell writing ahead of the opening of the Games on Friday.

Let the Games commence!

At 9 pm on Friday night, a newly cast bell that is larger than Big Ben will ring out from the Olympic Stadium and the eyes of one billion people across the globe will be upon London.  But what will they see?  What does modern Britain look like?  Well, it’s a mix of things, many of them characteristics that Britain shares with other countries.  But together we like to think they make up a pretty extraordinary whole.  The challenge for Danny Boyle, Artistic Director of the Opening Ceremony, was to capture all this, with just three hours to portray the British people and our society to the world.  Whether he has achieved this or not, you will judge for yourselves.  But I hope that every one of you watching will be able to take something away from it and think of Britain in a new light. 

Danny’s vision for the Ceremony came from thinking about the people of Britain: who we were, where we have come from, what our history and heritage is; and then who we are now and where we are going.  The UK has always been an open society.  It’s in our blood.  Our openness has always influenced the way we connect with the world.  We have a long history of looking outwards and taking the global perspective, and we help other people connect too.  Our language, the product of centuries of influence, is used all over the world, and our greatest writers, poets and playwrights have left behind them a global birthright.  It is no secret that Danny’s concept was inspired by a speech in William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, nor that the first scenes you will see celebrate William Blake’s rural idyll of ‘England’s green and pleasant land’. 

It is this rich and vibrant history that is so often associated with Britain: from the pomp and ceremony on display at our great Royal occasions to the Sunday afternoon games of cricket on village greens across the land.  Indeed, many of our customs and values, laws and ideals seem to have changed little over the years.  But in reality we are constantly inventing ourselves.  Our deep roots give us enormous energy, and our lively origins as a nation of migrants express themselves in a continuing tradition of exploration, discovery and creativity.  So Friday night’s ceremony will also be unpredictable and inventive.  It will reflect the rising urban population and life in Britain’s cities, as well as our traditional landscapes.  While one side of the stadium will evoke the classical music celebration of the Last Night of the Proms, the other will recreate the spirit of the Glastonbury music festival.  Because both of these are exuberant occasions where the British people love to let their hair down; both show different sides of a society which is dynamic and passionate and full of energy.  Nothing demonstrates this better than the astonishing dedication of the 10,000 volunteers who have given up hours of their free time to rehearse for this momentous occasion.  They truly represent the best of who we are as a nation.

When you watch the spectacle on Friday, I hope you will take away a snapshot of the heritage, diversity, energy and creativity that defines the modern United Kingdom and celebrates who we are as a people.  And when you listen to the sounds of the show, I hope you will take away a musical memory too, from the ringing of Europe’s largest bell to the soundtrack created by electronic music duo Underworld.  But above all, I hope you will see that the British people are incredibly proud to welcome the world, both this summer and in the future.  As Caliban says in ‘The Tempest’: ‘Be not afeared.  The isle is full of noises’.

London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony


  • The London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony is titled ‘Isles of Wonder’, inspired by Shakespeare’s play The Tempest
  • The worldwide broadcast of the Ceremony will commence at 21:00 on 27 July 2012, with the pre-show starting at 20:12.
  • The Ceremony is predicted to be viewed live by a worldwide TV audience of over a billion people.
  • It will open with the ringing of the largest harmonically-tuned bell in the world, produced by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry,     measuring 2 m tall by 3 m wide and weighing 23 tonnes.
  • In one of the largest sets ever built, the whole of the field of play in the Stadium will be transformed into the rolling British countryside, complete with meadows, fields and rivers.
  • It will feature families taking picnics, sport being played on the village green and farmers tilling the soil whilst real farmyard animals graze  
  • Øincluding 12 horses, 3 cows, 2 goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, 9 geese, 70 sheep, and 3 sheep dogs.
  • Each of the four nations will be represented by their national flower – the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and flax from Northern Ireland.
  • Equipment includes:
  • Ø15,000 square metres of staging – equivalent to 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools;
  • Øa flying system that can lift 25 tonnes – the same as five elephants;
  • Ø12,956 props, over 100 times more than a West End musical;
  • Øa million watt PA system using more than 500 speakers and 50 tonnes of associated sound gear;
  • Ølighting comprising 1,100 automated lamps, 1,000 conventional lamps, 500 LED fixtures, and 32 follow spots;
  • Øcostumes including 24,570 buttons for just one of the opening sequences;
  • There will be 10,000 adult volunteer performers.
  • Volunteer performers from the NHS for a special sequence that celebrates Britain’s National Health Service.
  • 900 children aged 7-9 years and 11-13 years chosen from schools in the six host boroughs engaged in the official London 2012 Get Set education programme.      

For all four Ceremonies there will be:

  • 20,000 volunteer cast members, from across the UK, 18-90 years old, including people who watched the London 1948 Games live;
  • 23,000 costumes and a total of 12 hours of music;
  • a combined TV audience predicted to be over four billion people;
  • 2,000 staff, crew and suppliers.

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