Queen Elizabeth II has declared the London Olympics open following a three-hour spectacle which was expected to be viewed by a television audience of 1 billion people.
The queen opened the Games at the Olympic stadium early on July 28.
Moments later, the Olympic cauldron was lit by seven young British athletes.
Games chief Sebastian Coe welcomed the world to London, saying the event celebrates "what is best about mankind."
The spectacle celebrated British history, culture, and eccentricity. It was directed by Danny Boyle, who won a best director Oscar for "Slumdog Millionaire."
As tradition dictates, Greece's Olympic team entered the stadium at the head of a parade of athletes from the more than 200 nations participating in the Games, bearing their nations' flags.
Some 10,500 athletes will be competing for 302 gold medals in 26 sports until August 12.
Speaking at Buckingham Palace just hours before the events began, Queen Elizabeth wished the teams of all nations good luck in the games.
"In all our Olympic teams there is so much of which we can be proud of. Groups of young men and women dedicated to excellence and achievement across numerous sporting disciplines," the queen said.
"And these teams are ably supported by thousands of organizers, volunteers, and supporters who will be following the actions not just at the Olympic venues here in the United Kingdom but throughout the world. For all these reasons I wish you and your countries successful, enjoyable, and memorable games."
Earlier in the day, the Olympic flame was rowed up the River Thames in a ceremonial barge as it completed the 70-day journey which brings it to the Olympic stadium.
Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP