The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow kicked off on Wednesday night as the opening ceremony took place at Celtic Park.
The curtain-raiser for 11 days of sporting competition in 17 different disciplines, the event was a celebration of Glasgow and Scotland as well as an introduction to all 71 nations competing, accounting for 4,500 athletes.
It also marked the culmination of the 288-day, 190,000-kilometre baton relay and the opening of the Games by the Queen.
Scottish comedian Karen Dunbar opened proceedings, welcoming the audience to the Games, and was joined by Glasgow-born actor John Barrowman for a musical introduction to Scotland.
A whistle-stop tour of the country was enacted by many of the 3,000 volunteer cast members in front of 40,000 people at the home of the Scottish Premier League champions.
The BBC's Mark Pougatch, BBC Sport and BBC Radio 5 live provided images from the opening number, which attempted to take in the whole of Scotland in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion:
Awww Nessie... pic.twitter.com/caPTt4wW0d— Mark Pougatch (@markpougatch) July 23, 2014
A frenetic opening it most certainly was, and respite was provided as singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald performed with numerous residents of Glasgow, initially via video and then in the stadium itself, per Glasgow 2014:
She was inevitably joined on stage by Scottish musical icon Rod Stewart who even sparked a response from Prime Minister David Cameron:
Susan Boyle of Britain's Got Talent fame then took to the microphone for a rendition of "Mull of Kintyre," initially accompanied simply by a piano before being joined by bagpipes and drums.
This performance immediately preceded the arrival of the Queen, indicated by a flyover from the Red Arrows, per the BBC's Clare Balding and the Huffington Post:Duke of Edinburgh, Pougatch questioning the legitimacy of such a move on a football pitch:
The Queen has just driven through the six yard box at Celtic Park. Yellow card offence, surely. She's all in ivory white.— Mark Pougatch (@markpougatch) July 23, 2014
After the arrival of the Queen and a well-received rendition of the national anthem, the baton made its way to the stadium having arrived by seaplane with adventurer Mark Beaumont.
Finally came the athletes' procession as each nation—led by India—was introduced by a different citizen of the host city and headed by local representation:
All the athletes were greeted with great warmth and enthusiasm, with the Scottish contingent obviously receiving a deafening reception as they anchored the procession, led out by Euan Burton.
Uniquely, there was an active charitable backbone to the entire ceremony, introduced by Ewan McGregor at the start of the show and completed by cyclist Chris Hoy and actor James McAvoy after the athletes' arrival. Spectators were encouraged to engage, per Glasgow 2014 partner UNICEF:
An out-of-this-world touch was provided by a message from three of the astronauts on the International Space Station:
A tribute to Nelson Mandela followed, led by comedian Billy Connolly, per the Daily Record, before the recital of the athletes' oath and a moment's silence to remember the victims of MH17, led by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond:
Finally came the opening of the Games by the Queen, who recited her hand-written message placed inside the baton before its epic journey across the Commonwealth. The baton was presented to the Queen by Hoy—Britain's most successful Olympian of all time.
In somewhat farcical fashion, the lid of the device took some time to be removed, but eventually, to great cheers, the message was withdrawn and recited by the Queen, per The Associated Press' Rob Harris:
Queen to athetes & fans: "Together you all play a part in strengthening our friendships in this modern and vibrant association of nations."— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) July 23, 2014
The ceremony was closed by a magnificent firework display across the city of Glasgow, accompanied by the music of Primal Scream.
With the pleasantries finalised, all that remains is for the competition to begin, as it does on Thursday morning with the lawn bowls, cycling and badminton to name a few.
If the opening ceremony is any indication of what's to come, it should be quite an eventful Games.