27 January 2012
Last updated at 11:39
The London 2012 opening ceremony is called "Isles of Wonder". Looking back, Beijing's opening ceremony began at 8.08pm on 8 August 2008, reflecting the belief widespread in Asia that eight is a lucky number. It focussed on ancient Chinese culture and saw thousands of people performing together in formation.
Greece, the birthplace of western civilisation, depicted its mythology and art throughout the Athens 2004 opening ceremony. It also featured drummers and bouzouki players and began with a Greek boy sailing into the stadium on a paper boat.
Australia's distinct flora and fauna were front and centre in Sydney 2000's ceremony which also showed the city's love affair with the beach, the outdoors and celebrated its Aboriginal heritage. Kylie sang. Aboriginal Australian athlete Cathy Freeman lit the Olympic cauldron.
Atlanta 1996's ceremony was a display of southern United States culture, including country and bluegrass music. But the stand-out moment was former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, who has Parkinson's disease, stepping forward to light the cauldron.
The story of the city's mythical birth from the sea was staged in the 1992 opener, but the crowd reserved their loudest applause not for operatic offerings from Placido Domingo or Jose Carerras, but for Monserrat Caballe's anthemic 'Barcelona'.
It was called Beyond all Barriers and noted for its cultural symbolism. The Seoul opening ceremony tried to bring the idea of the universal Olympics with the particular nature of Korea, together in harmony. Doves representing peace were released during an opening ceremony for the last time. Some came to an unfortunate end in the subsequent traditional cauldron lighting.
The rocket men who flew into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum were the stand-out moment of the opening ceremony for LA84. It was also remembered for Jaws and Star Wars composer John Williams' award-winning 'Olympic Fanfare and Theme'. Cards underneath spectators' seats were held up to form the flags of competing nations - but not those of the 16 boycotting countries.
The Moscow Games were marked by the boycott by countries objecting to the 1979 soviet war in Afghanistan. In the opening ceremony, 15 countries marched under the Olympic flag instead of their national flag. The displays were dominated by communist iconography like the hammer and sickle and mass participation images of Lenin.
The ceremony for the second London Olympics was held on a hot July day in 1948. It was a simple mixture of marching bands and the athletes' parade. The Royal family looked on as athlete John Mark lit the cauldron.
Back in 1908 it was purely about the athletes parading before the Royal family; and their flags. The American team would not dip their flag to Edward VII. Many Finns, objecting to their country's domination by the Russian Empire, chose not to march with one and all, and the Swedes refused to take part in the ceremony as their flag was not flying above the stadium.