The Olympic party kicked off at 20.12pm on Friday.
Giant balls with cameras inside, floating clouds, shifting blue silk sheets and a digital electronic countdown was part of the opening ceremony warm-up for the 70,000-plus people with a seat at the Olympic Stadium.
A fly past by the Red Arrows trailing red white and blue smoke in their wake was greeted by cheers as the jets passed over at 20.12pm.
The packed arena in Stratford, east London, was filled with more than 70,000 people eagerly awaiting the start of the opening ceremony.
Seating at the venue has been cut from its usual 80,000 capacity to make way for the stage, props and camera positions.
The three-hour opening ceremony costing £27 million was to follow but this was the special entertainment put on for the audience inside the stadium, some of whom had paid £2,012 for a ticket.
The first thing the crowd saw as they settled into their seats was that the newly-built Olympic Stadium had been turned into a meadow.
The opening scene, dreamt up by artistic director and Oscar winner Danny Boyle, is called A Green and Pleasant Land.
The set features a meadow, fields of grass, a river, families taking picnics, people playing cricket or rugby on the village green and farmers tilling the soil.
Giant fluffy white clouds somehow tethered in mid-air were trailed around in slow circuits of the track, which now was made up to look like a road.
Animals including 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese, 70 sheep and three sheep dogs also appeared in these opening scenes.
Boyle had already written a hand-written letter to animal rights campaigners Peta saying no animals will be harmed during the making of the show and pledged to save those featured from the abattoir.
There was a cottage and four maypoles, representing England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with people dancing around them.
Mosh pits on either side of the arena included many members of the public who got to see some of the show up close. It was meant to represent the mass audiences that attend events like the Proms and Glastonbury.
A huge mound representing Glastonbury Tor but topped off with a giant Oak tree was set at one side of the stadium. At the other was the stage where live performances would be belted out.
It was also where Europe's largest harmonically-tuned bell, especially commissioned for London 2012, would ring to mark the start of the opening ceremony.
Just as the audience got used to the countryside scene a new element for them to watch or take part in is added to the pre-show warm-up.
Comedian Curtis Walker compered the pre-show and along with the lead performer guided the international audience on what to do.
They were taught the sea silk manoeuvre which showed them how to move a large panel of blue cloth from the top of the stands to the bottom.
This looked like a perfect blue summer's sky as the clouds were gently drawn past.
Just for a laugh they were also taught to sing in Cockney - which meant a verse of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles".
It is now a football anthem linked with West Ham who want to turn the stadium in to their home after the Games.
One billion people worldwide are expected to watch the ceremony.
This was the extra treat for the ticket holders with a ringside seat.
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