Sunday's closing ceremony will be every bit as spectacular as its opening counterpart that took place a mere 16 days ago. Only this time, fun will take precedence over the actual Games.
A relaxed celebration of the athletic achievements that have preceded it, the ceremony allows competitors to let down their hair, mingle and momentarily forget sporting battles won and lost. It also provides host country Great Britain a final opportunity to show off its artistic accomplishments before the official handover to Rio de Janeiro, who will stage the summer games in 2016.
The event will be streamed lived on NBCOlympics com at 4 p.m ET and air during the final Olympics prime-time show on NBC at 7 p.m. ET/PT Sunday.
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Titled "A Symphony of British Music," the evening's performances will feature some of the greatest names of the British music industry along with more than 4,100 participants, including 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 schoolchildren from the six east London host boroughs, according to the official London 2012 website.
Like its opening bookend, Sunday's ceremony must contain certain elements as outlined in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter: the march of the athletes; hoisting of the flags of the countries of the first Olympics (Greece), current (United Kingdom) and future (Brazil); the passing of the Olympic flag and the extinguishing of the Olympic flame -- a poignant moment signaling the official end of the games.
Following these formalities, the partying really begins.
In what remains a guessing game of bold-faced pop-music names, artistic director Kim Gavin and his team have assembled a cast that will showcase how music has been one of Britain’s strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years. ‘We want to create a fabulous emotional experience, something people remember for years to come," said Gavin in a recent statement. "It will be an elegant mash-up of British music."
Rumors of just who will entertain the 80,000+ physical attendees and around 1 billion television viewers include reunions of Brit super-groups Spice Girls and Take That, as well as appearances by Annie Lennox, The Pet Shop Boys, Ray Davies, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Madness, Muse, One Direction, Jesse J, Elbow, Adele, Elton John, and the remaining members of Queen. According to a preliminary set list obtained by the Daily Mail, ballerina Darcy Bussell and 300 dancers will perform as the flame is extinguished while The Who are currently expected to close the show.
One performer definitely confirmed to appear is George Michael, who announced his participation via Twitter. Chided by a follower for going public amidst all the secrecy, the "Freedom 90" singer replied: "It's been all over the press for weeks, and I think you all needed to be put out of your misery," before adding, "Obviously a bit nervous not having played for nearly a year, but rehearsals sounding great so far!"
The evening's musical director David Arnold told the Daily Telegraph that predictions Paul McCartney and Adele would perform were "scarily accurate," but would not confirm growing rumors that reclusive singer Kate Bush would appear.
In a tribute to British fashion, models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Lily Cole, Georgia Jagger and Stella Tennant will strut a catwalk to the strains of David Bowie's "Fashion," the Daily Mail also revealed.
How these events will be staged is still guesswork, but sneak-peak photographs of some of the sets were leaked this week showing reduced-scale reconstructions of some of London's most famous landmarks, including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St. Pauls Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the London Eye - all covered in newspaper. These iconic monuments will reportedly be unwrapped early in the program as 300 performers take part in a routine based on London's rush hour, with cars, bicycles, motorcycles and commuters whizzing about the main stage.
The Daily Mail also reports that London's famed Notting Hill Carnival will be recreated, along with a parade of 160 Coldstream Guards and a comedy performance by Russell Brand, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders that contains a version of the Sex Pistol's "Pretty Vacant."
Ultimately, the closing ceremony is all about the competitors as they bid goodbye to London and bring the curtain down on the Games of the 30th Olympiad. The march of the athletes will begin with flag-bearers entering the stadium in single file, closely followed by the athletes who, in contrast to the opening ceremony, march together, not by nationality. They are then free to enjoy the festivities as a united group. This tradition began in Melbourne, Australia at the 1956 Games and is seen as bringing the global athletes together as one nation.
The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.