The biggest and most intriguing spectacle of any Olympic Games is the opening ceremony, which features some of the world's best athletes and top performers all in one place.
On Friday, Feb. 7, the world will turn its attention to Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony will take place. With a variety of entertainers and stars sure to be on display alongside each nation's top competitors, the symbolic event is something you won't want to miss.
Here, we'll get you set with everything you need to know for 2014's opening ceremony from Sochi.
Date: Friday, Feb. 7, 2014
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST (tape delay)
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia
No Live Stream Option
While NBC will stream all the action from Sochi live this February, the opening ceremony will not be made available to viewers online.
According to Variety senior television editor Brian Steinberg, NBC Universal executives don't believe the event is conducive to online viewing:
NBCU executives said Tuesday at a press event. "We want to put context to it, with the full pageantry it deserves," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group.
He said executives believed an unvarnished live stream of the colorful ceremonies would not make sense without description. What’s more, the company feels the opening-ceremony telecast is enjoyed by families who gather together, making it a natural for the boob-tube.
The goal, according to Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports Group's chairman, is to "maximize the viewing experience," which would be compromised with a live stream lacking proper context.
Steinberg adds that the opening ceremony is scheduled to run for four hours on NBC and will be hosted by familiar faces in Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Bob Costas.
Anticipate a Show
Although the Olympic opening ceremony is designed to signal the official start of the Games, there's plenty more to it than just the lighting of the Olympic flame.
With so much attention being paid to Russia, you can anticipate an impressive display of culture in Sochi. Whether it's music, dancing or other art forms, those in charge of the event will be aiming to positively portray the country and its sophistication.
According to The Guardian's Viktoria Ivanova, Sochi officials have their sights set on an epic performance that will feature "15 buildings, six locomotives and six bridges" on stage during the event:
Plans for the opening ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympics reportedly include a performance on three stages featuring heroes of Russian stories, the Russian troika from Gogol’s Dead Souls and Peter I commanding five ships.
Images of imperial Russia will give way to the 20th century, with buildings, locomotives, bridges and sculptures.
BBC sports editor David Bond provides a closer look at the venue that will host Feb. 7's opening ceremony:
In addition to the eye-popping display and entertainment, viewers should keep an eye out for the parade of athletes. The Olympic tradition is arguably the proudest moment for a majority of the participating athletes and allows viewers a chance to see their favorite stars up close.
And the most symbolic moment of the ceremony will be the lighting of the Olympic flame. Even that aspect features a shred of mystery, though, as there's been no official announcement as to who will do the honors.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.