South Korea's Kim Hae-ran, left, and teammate Kim Yeon-koung watch as a ball fall to the court during a women's bronze medal volleyball match against Japan at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in London.
So who lit the cauldron?
British Olympic hero Steve Redgrave carried the torch into the stadium — its final stop after a journey around the country — and the five-time rowing gold medalist handed it off to seven young athletes representing Britain’s hopes for the future, who ignited copper “petals” on the ground and lit the Olympic cauldron. The fire spread in a circle and the petals converged to form a large cauldron in the sky. Video: Horrow's Olympic business update.
Pass the torch
Steve Redgrave holds the torch out to the seven young Olympians. It was a giant surprise in giving teenage athletes the supreme honor of igniting the Olympic flame. Video: Are athletes safe?
Sharing the moment
Together, the seven final torchbearers touched torches to trumpetlike tubes that spread into a ring of fire and then rose elegantly to jointly form the cauldron. It was the end of the journey for the flame. Some 8,000 torchbearers, mostly unheralded Britons, had carried it on a 70-day, 8,000-mile journey from toe to tip of the British Isles, whipping up enthusiasm for a $14 billion Olympics taking place during a severe recession. The final torchbearers were kept a closely guarded secret — remarkable given the scrutiny on these, the first Summer Games of the Twitter era. Video: Athletes' psyche.
Lords of the rings
The Olympic rings are lit with pyrotechnics during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Friday in London. Britain’s best teamed to give London a wild Olympic opening like no other, to kick off a 17-day festival of sports. Video: Van Dyken on opening ceremony.
Thing of beauty
The trumpetlike tubes spread into a ring of fire and then rose elegantly to jointly form the cauldron — which organizers said would be moved Sunday night to one end of the stadium. Video: Dawes interviews first lady.
Heaven on Earth
Fireworks light up the Olympic Stadium. The Brits turned it into a jukebox, cranking up world-beating rock from the Beatles, the Stones and The Who to send the planet a message: Britain, loud and royal proud, is ready to roll. Video: What's it like to be an Olympic mom?
Hey Jude ... er, Paul
Sir Paul McCartney performs to a rousing response. With a singalong of "Hey Jude," the former Beatle closed the spectacle that ran 45 minutes beyond its scheduled three hours. Video: Improving the games.
Former world heavyweight champion and 1960 Rome Olympic gold medalist Muhammad Ali also was cheered when he appeared briefly with his wife, Lonnie, before the Olympic flag was unfurled. Video: Man who wants to bring back boxing.
Stars and stripes
The Americans, big favorites to take home the most medals, make a grand entrance into the Olympic Stadium, with LeBron, Kobe, Lolo and company sporting Ralph Lauren’s presidential look. Video: Dawes previews USA men's gymnastics.
Face of Team USA
Team USA track and field star Lolo Jones accessorizes her outfit with a winning smile. While Jones, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and other US stars walked, Michael Phelps was absent, choosing to rest for his Saturday competition.
MORE: Read all about Lolo Jones, hear how hurdlers like Jones prepare for their event, and see how cutting-edge technology has helped prolong her career.
Athletes of American Samoa walk in the parade during the opening ceremony. The parade of nations featured most of the roughly 10,500 athletes — some planned to stay away to save their strength for competition — marching behind the flags of the 204 nations taking part.
MORE: Hear first lady Michele Obama's thoughts on heading up the U.S. delegation.
Gang's all here
Greece led the march into the stadium, as the spiritual home of the games, and Team Great Britain was last, as host. Prince William and his wife, Kate, joined in thunderous applause that greeted the British team, which marched to the David Bowie track "Heroes." A helicopter showered the athletes and stadium with 7 billion tiny pieces of paper — one for each person on Earth.
Queen Elizabeth II, playing along with movie magic from director Danny Boyle, provided the highlight of the Oscar-winner's high-adrenaline show. With film trickery, Boyle made it seem as if Britain's beloved 86-year-old monarch parachuted into the stadium with James Bond.
David Beckham passes under Tower Bridge driving a speedboat named 'Max Power' which carries the Olympic Torch with its torchbearer. They delivered the torch to Redgrave, who carried it on the final lap to the stadium.
Say it loud
The show never caught its breath with a nonstop rock-and-pop homage to cool Britannia. The soundtrack veered from classical to irreverent. Boyle daringly included the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" and a snippet of its version of "God Save the Queen" — an anti-establishment punk anthem once banned by the BBC.
A performer in a giant ball is passed around. Director Danny Boyle had a ball with his favored medium, mixing filmed passages with live action to hypnotic effect, with 15,000 volunteers taking part in the show.
On wings of eagles
Winged performers riding bikes? There was no end of strange spectacles.
Is Danny Boyle a fan of "E.T."? Judging by this stunt, he probably is.
Alex Turner of the Artic Monkeys performs. The encyclopedic review of modern British music included a 1918 Broadway standard adopted by the West Ham football team, the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," by still another Queen, and other tracks too numerous to mention, but not to dance to.
Performers dance during the opening ceremony. It was a party to end all parties, with 75,000 people in the house.
Take a bow
Artistic director Danny Boyle, who directed "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Trainspotting" while developing into one of Britain's most successful filmmakers, dazzled the world with his production.
Actor Rowan Atkinson as "Mr. Bean" provided laughs, shown dreaming that he was appearing in "Chariots of Fire," the inspiring story of a Scotsman and an Englishman at the 1924 Paris Games.
Villains of British literature including Voldemort are surrounded by performers depicting Mary Poppins. From Britain's rich literary tradition, Boyle focused on its cornucopia of children's classics. British writers gave the world heroes like Peter Pan, Mary Poppins and Harry Potter — and even-more-memorable villains, from Captain Hook to Cruella de Vil to Voldemort.
Performers in the role of Mary Poppins float inside the stadium during the opening ceremony.
Performers dance during the Opening Ceremony.
The opening ceremony had all kinds of surreal sights. Boyle recruited real nurses working for the National Health Service to take part, a tribute to a treasured national institution that started in 1948 amid the ruins of war-devastated Britain. The state-funded NHS provides free health treatment to all Britons, and is embraced by all political parties. While grumbling about its perceived slow service is widespread — and planned government reforms are controversial — its egalitarian ethos is a matter of national pride. When U.S. Republicans criticized the NHS in 2009, a Twitter campaign in its defense became so popular it crashed the NHS website.
Can't stay in bed
Performers dance in a scene in tribute of The Great Ormond Street Hospital for sick children.
Performers depict a game of football during the opening ceremony. Headlong rushes of movie images took spectators on wondrous, heart-racing voyages through everything British: a cricket match, the London Tube, the roaring, abundant seas that buffet and protect this island nation, and along the Thames, the river that winds like a vein through London and was the gateway for the city's rise over the centuries as a great global hub of trade and industry. Video: Chastain on women's soccer.
Where's Bilbo Baggins?
The show portrayed idyllic rural Britain — a place of meadows, farms, sport on village greens and picnics — that then gave way to the industrial transformation that revolutionized the nation in the 18th and 19th centuries, the foundation for an empire that reshaped world history.
Herd the latest?
London is one of the world's great urban meccas — but England has a rich pastoral element, too, as this actor tending her flock of sheep for the opening ceremonies reminds one and all.
Belching chimneys rose where only moments earlier live sheep had trod.
The Industrial Revolution also produced terrifying weapons, and Boyle built in a moment of hush to honor those killed in war.
Answering the bell
Wearing his yellow winner's jersey, newly crowned Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins rang a 23-ton Olympic Bell from the same London foundry that made Big Ben and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. Its thunderous chime was a nod to the British tradition of pealing bells to celebrate the end of war and the crowning of kings and queens.
Just plane fun
The Red Arrows fly in formation over the Olympic Stadium as the opening ceremonies take wing. The evening started with the fighter jets streaming red, white and blue smoke and roaring over the stadium, packed with a buzzing crowd of 60,000 people.
The Olympic Stadium — complete with faux clouds, in addition to the real ones up above — starts to fill up as the moment nears for opening ceremonies to kick off.
A member of the media covers himself with a newspaper during a rain shower.
Hold on tight
A television camera man is suspended on cables above the stage.
Media people shelter from the rain.
All fired up
The royal barge Gloriana carries the Olympic flame along the river Thames on Friday morning, heading toward the evening's opening ceremonies.
The race is on!
It's not just track and field stars racing around London — these fans get it in gear, too, as they race across Westminster bridge on Friday to watch the royal barge Gloriana carry the Olympic flame along the river Thames, ahead of the opening ceremonies.
This Brit trudges through morning drizzle near London Olympics displays at Russell Square on Friday morning, a few hours before the opening ceremonies. Showers were in the evening forecast, but were not expected to dampen the festivities.
With the opening ceremonies just hours away — and the games themselves not far behind — workers install an Olympic decal at Earls Court, site of the men's and women's volleyball competition.
Here's the rub
The spotlight was on the opening ceremonies Friday, but with the games soon to follow, a worker cleans the seats at Earls Court, site of the men's and women's volleyball competition.