London has celebrated the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, as thousands of tourists from around the world arrive in the city.
Despite last minute price drops, many hotels are seeing record occupancy levels, with virtually all the tickets for two weeks of sport sold out ahead of time.
A television audience, believed to be in the region of one billion people, watched the ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle, this evening.
Some 15,000 volunteers took part in the spectacle, with 60,000 spectators – including the Queen – in the east London stadium.
With competitors poised to begin the athletics events tomorrow – following the first rounds of football on Wednesday and Thursday – International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has been quick to praise the city.
He pointed to the regeneration which has taken place in east London and said the Games would have a “tangible legacy” with, uniquely, “no white elephants”.
The Olympic Flame earlier completed its journey around the country.
Having been seen by millions of spectators, the torch was used to light the symbolic flame which will burn in the Olympic Stadium in Stratford for the next two weeks.
British prime minister David Cameron said the country was ready to welcome “the greatest show on earth”.
Speaking at Downing Street earlier in the day, he said: “It is a great opportunity to show the world the best of
Britain, a country that’s got an incredibly rich past but also a very exciting future.”
Britain’s largest bell was rung at 21:00 to begin the opening ceremony, which covered 15,000 square metres of staging and used 12,956 props.
The event boasted a million-watt PA system and used more than 500 speakers.
The theme reflected British life.
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations will take part in what will be the third the London Olympics.