While the Olympics are about athletic pursuits as much as anything, something that even non-sports fans often look forward to is the opening ceremony. The opening of the 2012 London Games will take place on July 27 and is expected to be viewed by millions upon millions of people around the world.
The opening ceremony is always a spectacle to behold and is among the most lavish celebrations you will see anywhere. That will especially be true in London as Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle is in charge of the festivities and has enlisted thousands of performers and other workers to make it happen.
According to the Associated Press, Boyle has even gone so far as to cut segments from the ceremony, which will begin at 9 pm London time, in order to ensure that those who attend the event will have public transportation in order to get back to their homes and hotels.
It seems as though this could be the most impressive opening ceremony ever, and that is saying a lot after the show that Beijing put on in 2008. There is a certain amount of one-upsmanship when it comes to the opening ceremony, so the entire viewing audience will surely be captivated.
Here is all the information you need to know with regards to when and where to view the official opening of the London Olympics.
When: Friday, July 27 at 7:30 pm ET
Where: Olympic Stadium in London, England
As is usually the case, the identity of the torch lighter has yet to be revealed and is likely to remain a mystery to most until the moment it happens. The lighting of the Olympic cauldron is perhaps the most important Olympic tradition as the Games are in session for as long as it burns.
The person who lights it is likely to either be a current or former British athlete, or some other figure who is important in British culture in one way or another. Ever since Crown Prince Haakon Magnus lit the flame to signal the beginning of the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games, however, an athlete or multiple athletes have always done the honor. That would seem to suggest that one or more British athletes will be involved.
English soccer star David Beckham was speculated to be a strong candidate for quite some time, but he was left off the Great Britain roster and will not have the honor, according to Esther Addley of The Guardian.
I would lean toward rower Steven Redgrave as he won five gold medals and one bronze medal for Great Britain from 1984 through 2000 and is the most-decorated British Olympian of all time. Of course, there are several other options, including Queen Elizabeth II, but it is fun to speculate in the meantime.
There are certainly some grand plans for the opening ceremony as the Associated Press is reporting that 10,000 people will be involved and the ceremony is entitled "Isles of Wonder" by Boyle. His show is inspired by William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and the opening sequence is going to feature a British countryside with dozens of animals taking part.
As far as big-name performers go, the only one who has been confirmed is former Beatles star Paul McCartney. While McCartney is beloved across the world, he is among the most influential people in Great Britain, so having him round out the opening ceremony is a no-brainer and obviously a great idea on Boyle's part.
It is hard to say who else might be involved, but there are countless legendary musicians and performers with British roots, so the possibilities are endless. Early descriptions of the opening ceremony sound spectacular, though, so pretty much anyone could complement McCartney and the event would likely be a success.
London is trying to prove that it can measure up to any other city in the world in terms of putting on a great Olympic show, so we can definitely expect to see some incredible performances on the night of July 27.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter