Beijing 2008 - Amazing fireworks
The 2008 Beijing Olympics began officially on Friday 8th August 2008 at 8pm in front of a crowd of 90,000 eager spectators in the Bird's Nest stadium.
Things got off to a bang with an initial firework display which lit up Beijing's skyline, followed by a total of 2,008 energetic drummers beating a countdown.
Then the crowd was treated to an amazing sequence of intricately-choreographed, beautifully-lit vignettes which took them through 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture.
After these performances, it was time for the athletes themselves to take centre stage. In keeping with tradition, Olympic founders Greece led the 204 competing nations into the stadium.
China's 639 athletes entered last behind towering flag bearer Yao Ming, to a thunderous reception from the crowd.
Finally, the cauldron was lit by a jet of fire from Chinese Olympic hero Li Ning, who had been hoisted up to the roof of the stadium on wires.
China, of course, was not alone in watching the opening ceremony. British newspaper The Guardian said the show "outdid all of its predecessors in numbers, colour, noise and expense."
The Financial Times was equally impressed. "No country ever has – or surely will – match the Chinese in effort, human power, synchronicity, ingenuity and, it has to be said, money they were willing to put into what was once a little show."
No pressure on the next Olympic host city then! With just four years to go, the London Olympic organisers have promised to deliver an equally inspirational ceremony. Let's hope they can pull it off.