Fireworks explode over the National Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Beijing.

Fireworks explode over the National Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Beijing.

If any future Olympic Games is ever credited with a more awesome, brilliant, inspired, powerful or original opening ceremonies it might have to be because everybody on the planet developed amnesia.

The spectacular show which China produced to welcome the world to the XXIX Olympic Games and welcome themselves to the world was almost certainly the greatest show in the history of the greatest show in sport.

It was China’s day all the way as the nation of 1.3 billion, one-fifth of the population of the planet, used 15,000 performers to depict 5,000 years of history in a spectacular, spell-binding production.

It was so full of wonder and amazement it might not have translated to television.

Expectations were so great for these opening ceremonies to be so great that it was almost impossible to live up to them yet it was a total triumph right from the beginning at eight minutes after eight in the eighth month of 2008.

With 2,008 ancient percussion instruments made of clay and bronze, the same number of performers created a rhythm and light show which counted down the seconds to filling the Beijing sky with fireworks, 11,456 of them on the top of the stadium and 8,428 around the city.

There was never a question that fireworks were going to be a key component of the show in the land that gave the world gun powder and they didn’t wait long to fire off the first of the displays which would emerge from inside the stadium, outside the stadium throughout the Olympic Green area around the stadium and from four other sites around the city.

A never-to-be-forgotten highlight was the “footprints in the sky” segment of fireworks beginning at Tiananmen Square, each burst forming a foot in the sky, as they worked their way to the Bird’s Nest for another big blast.

Segments which followed were so massive in scale and complex in detail it was understandable that the performers involved rehearsed full-time for 13 months to pull it off wearing a mind-boggling 15,153 sets of costumes.

The athletes march-in was anti-climactic and the saddest part of the evening was that the stars of the show had to wait hours in the heat of the night and missed the whole show so many had enthused about experiencing.

With a record 204 nations involved (Brunei was a no-show), the parade went over two hours this year.

China even managed to match the Barcelona archer shot to light the torch when gymnast Li Ning, attached to cables, was lifted to the rim of the stadium where he carried the torch around the lip before lighting the cauldron at the top of the stadium. That, of course, brought on probably the greatest fireworks display over an entire city the world has ever seen.

If there was a criticism at all, at least beyond the fact it took more than four hours, it might be that the opening ceremonies were so overwhelmingly awesome that the one thing they lacked was a light, delightful, bubbly touch. In that way, the ceremonies might end up being a microcosm of the next 16 days – awesome but not that much fun.

If there is an area where Vancouver 2010 has a hope following this act it is to do what China didn’t do and make it a ton of fun.

There are plenty of other performances that should get credit:

The Moving Blocks

The Living Scroll

The Chi Che Circle

The list goes on & on. China lived up to this years theme:

One World One Dream

For more more awesome images of the fireworks click the link below:

Birds Nest Fireworks


~ by Digory Kirke on August 9, 2008.

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