August 12, 2012: London's Olympics sign off with a spectacular star-studded finale

The Spice Girls, George Michael, Take That, The Who and a cast of thousands bid farewell to the 2012 games in a spectacular closing ceremony watched by 750 million people.

After two weeks of sporting spectacle, London’s Olympic Games came to a glorious end with a joyous, music-filled closing ceremony.

The spectacular finale of the 2012 London Olympics was titled ‘A Symphony of British Music’ – and was a suitably celebratory ending to one of the greatest Summer Games in Olympic history.

Created by a team which included Billy Elliott director Stephen Daldry and James Bond composer David Arnold, the ceremony took place at the Olympic Stadium and cost £20 million to stage. It featured around 4,100 performers – 3,500 adult volunteers, 380 schoolchildren from six London boroughs and 250 professionals – who had attended around 15 rehearsals before the big day.


Proceedings kicked off at 9pm – following a countdown to the chimes of Big Ben – with the arena having been transformed into a giant, black-and-white representation of a Union Jack flag, designed by Damien Hirst.

[August 4, 2012: Six golds make it a Super Saturday for Team GB]

Starting with Emeli Sandé performing her hit Read All About It, the ceremony was a joyous fusion of music and dance. Acts like Pet Shop Boys, Jessie J, One Direction, George Michael, Spice Girls, Embrace, Take That and Elbow all performed – along with Morris and Bhangra dancers, dhol drummers and the dance collective Stomp – and the ceremony also featured music by the Beatles, Queen, Kate Bush and David Bowie.

Spice Girls

Timothy Spall appeared as Winston Churchill, reprising Caliban's "Be not afeard" speech from The Tempest, which has been read by Kenneth Branagh in the opening ceremony.

Following the parade of athletes and the lowering of the Olympic flag, Boris Johnson handed it to Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, who in turn passed it to Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of 2016 host city Rio de Janeiro. After a segment introducing the world to Rio, Sebastian Coe and Jacques Rogge appeared on stage together to pay tribute to those who had made the 2012 Olympics so “happy and glorious”.


"On the first day of these Games I said we were determined to do it right. I said that these Games would see the best of us,” said Coe. "On this last day I can conclude with these words: When our time came, Britain, we did it right. Thank you."

[July 6, 2005: London beats Paris and Madrid for right to host 2012 Olympics]

The spectacular Olympic cauldron was part-lowered, and fireworks set off behind it; over 200 ballet dancers performed a dance called 'the spirit of the flame', and the Olympic Flame was extinguished.


To end the show, The Who performed a rousing medley of some of their greatest hits as a montage of images of Games volunteers and Londoners appeared on the big screen. The night – and the 2012 Olympic Games – then came to an end with a huge fireworks display in the stadium and in the Olympic Park around it.

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