The best of Britain's past and present music scene partied with volunteers, athletes and the world as London 2012 came to a breathtaking close tonight.
The Spice Girls, Madness, Queen, Take That and Annie Lennox took to the stage in a symphony of British music.
Aimed at celebrating one of Britain's strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years, the musical extravaganza marked the end of the country's most successful Games in more than a century.
Evoking images of the past from Winston Churchill and Edward Elgar, through the psychedelic 60s to the highs and lows of the Games, the closing ceremony culminated with a glimpse of the carnival that awaits in Rio in four years' time.
A galaxy of stars including the Pet Shop Boys, Kaiser Chiefs, George Michael, Tinie Tempah and Jessie J, along with faces such as Kate Moss, Russell Brand, Julian Lloyd Webber, Naomi Campbell and Darcey Bussell built up to the show's climax and The Who.
Traditionally, the closing ceremony is a chance to celebrate what the athletes have achieved, with Lord Coe describing the night as a time to "party, party, party".
Entering the Olympic Stadium, the audience was treated to a vision of working London wrapped in newspaper as they were taken to the heart of the capital's busy rush hour.
As well as typically rainy weather forecasts and stocks and shares, the reams of print celebrated British literary greats from the earliest surviving Anglo-Saxon poetry to current poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, with extracts from Shakespeare and Milton along the way.
A series of ramps - covering the track where Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis made history - formed a black and white Union Jack, the first of many versions of the flag to feature in the extravaganza.
Unwrapped on a newspaper rubbish truck, singer Emeli Sande, who performed in the opening ceremony, delighted the crowds with hit song Read All About It.
Percussion group Stomp emerged to swing from the scaffolding, playing models of the capital's landmarks including Big Ben and the London Eye as if they were instruments.
Within moments, The Beatles' hit Because, performed by London gospel choir Urban Voices Collective, merged into Edward Elgar's Salut d'Amour by cellist Julian Lloyd Webber on top of the Royal Albert Hall.
As the morning traffic jam came to life, newspaper-clad vehicles from black cabs and vintage cars to folding bikes revved their engines and honked their horns as newspaper-dressed businessmen and women portrayed a busy Monday morning on Waterloo Bridge.
Winston Churchill, played by King's Speech actor Timothy Spall, stood atop Big Ben reciting the same lines from Shakespeare's The Tempest which helped open the Games 16 days ago: "Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises."
As the deafening noise grew to a crescendo, Churchill brought the worldwide audience's focus to the royal box as a fanfare announced the arrival of Prince Harry and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.
As Union flags were waved from car windows, the packed stadium was led in the British National Anthem by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Urban Voices Collective.
After the armed services raised the flag, printed grey clouds on the stadium floor were pulled back to reveal an artistic explosion of red, white, and blue created by Damien Hirst.
As Michael Caine's classic 1969 film The Italian Job was shown on the screens, the yellow Robin Reliant of Only Fools and Horses fame made an explosive entry, with Batman and Robin staggering from the wreckage in reference to one of the classic British comedy's most famous episodes.
Madness joined the stage with the infectious beat of Our House as the cast ripped newspaper from the cars, revealing bright vehicles with multi-coloured balloons floating from their boots.
Echoing the song's original video, saxophonist Lee Thompson was lifted to play solo high above the track.
A total of 160 guards from the Massed Bands of the Household Division marched behind Madness before playing Blur's Parklife.
The Pet Shop Boys, riding on rickshaws, performed West End Girls, followed by X Factor phenomenon One Direction with their hit What Makes You Beautiful.
In another nod to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 10 large trucks burst open to reveal street parties representing all walks of London life.
Some 30 gymnasts from Britain's Got Talent troupe Spelbound contorted themselves to illustrate the lyrics of The Beatles' A Day in The Life.
As the day drew to a close, The Kinks' frontman Ray Davies arrived in a black cab singing his 1960s hit Waterloo Sunset.
As a funfair scene emerged, a shimmering river of 270 children from 10 schools in the six east London host boroughs weaved its way through the melee to Sande's reprise of Read All About It.
As many of the 10,000 athletes from the 204 nations involved in the Games flooded into the stadium, filling the areas between the ramped stage, they joined hands during Elbow's performance of Open Arms and One Day Like This.
Billions of viewers were treated to another interpretation of the Union Flag as the athletes, in their national colours, formed a mosh pit around the stage.
White boxes representing the 303 Olympic events formed a pyramid on to which the winners, losers, blood, sweat and tears from London 2012 were projected.
After the traditional men's marathon victory ceremony, the 70,000 volunteer Games Makers were honoured with a shower of petals before darkness and silence descended.
The showcase of British music continued with the voice of Freddie Mercury singing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
From the darkness along the ramps, a sculpture of John Lennon's face was formed as Imagine was sung by choirs from his birthplace, Liverpool.
George Michael came in singing his 1990s anthem Freedom '90 before segueing into his latest record White Light.
Spotlights then picked out the Kaiser Chiefs playing The Who's Pinball Wizard after a dark blue light descended on the stadium.
As inflatable silver pinballs bounced around the athletes, Kaiser Chief Ricky Wilson joined 50 Mods on scooters for the performance.
A sequence of sound waves were sent around the stadium on more than 70,000 pixel screens next to each seat before floating up to form images of David Bowie on the screens.
A compilation in homage to Bowie culminated in Fashion before stunning billboard images of nine British supermodels preceded their entrance.
As the drapes were pulled off, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, wearing Alexander McQueen, strutted along shimmering catwalks forming the Union Jack.
With the Olympic cauldron shrouded in smoke, Annie Lennox emerged on the figurehead of a ghost galleon to perform Little Bird.
As the ship faded back into the smoke, two men in 1970s business suits walked a tightrope high above the field of play before shaking hands and bursting into flames, recreating the album cover of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.
Ed Sheeran was joined by original Floyd drummer Nick Mason, The Feeling's Richard Jones and Genesis founder Mike Rutherford for the hit.
As segments of daily British life were shown to the crowds, comedian Russell Brand arrived on a psychedelic tour bus performing Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Beatles' I Am The Walrus with string quartet Bond.
The bus transformed into a fluorescent 50m octopus as Fatboy Slim rose from its head, spinning his decks as dancers performed to his hits Right Here, Right Now and The Rockafeller Skank.
From limousines circling the track, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz emerged singing their respective hits Price Tag, Written in the Stars and Dynamite before joining together for the Bee Gees' disco tune You Should Be Dancing.
After a balletic performance of 10 taxis, five came to life illuminated in baby pink, sporty stripes, posh dynamite, the Union Flag and a scary animal print.
It was, of course, the much-anticipated reunion of the Spice Girls - reformed for one night only to perform Spice Up Your Life and Wannabe from the roofs of the cabs.
Former Oasis star Liam Gallagher continued the run of British classics with his band Beady Eye for the 1990s hit WonderWall.
As Electric Light Orchestra's Mr Blue Sky filled the stadium, home-made flying machines made several attempts to get off the ground as a would-be rocket man played by Monty Python comedian Eric Idle collapsed under the stage, only to return to lead the crowds in a new version of Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.
Joined by a surreal collection of jigging Morris Dancers, a choir of rugby players and skating nuns, a human cannonball was launched across the stadium.
Muse, known for their fascination with outer space, took to the stage next with their London 2012 Olympic song Survival.
Four tipper trucks, driven to centre stage, exploded in a fury of pyrotechnics as their raised tailgates became screens showing footage of Freddie Mercury performing live in 1986 at Wembley Stadium.
With "deyo, deyo" ringing out across the stadium, Queen's Roger Taylor emerged while bandmate Brian May made his way through the crowd performing the guitar solo from Brighton Rock before joining Jessie J for the classic anthem We Will Rock You.
As an arrow pointed to Rio de Janeiro, the host city for 2016, the Greek flag was raised in honour of the origins of the Games.
After the Olympic Flag was lowered by members of the armed forces, the Olympic Anthem rang out sung by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir.
The capital's mayor Boris Johnson had the honour of passing the flag to Mr Rogge, who in turn presented it to Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, each waving the traditional four times.
Celebrating the first time a South American country hosts the Games, a mix of cultures, music and dance marked the handover.
From a solitary street cleaner practising Samba steps, a carnival parade invaded the stage as Brazilian pop singer Marisa Monte entered with a giant gown representing water goddess Yemanja, who is celebrated on New Year's Eve on Copacabana Beach.
Actor-singer Seu Jorge joined an acrobatic group of Capoeira fighters and dancing couples, including model Alessandra Ambrosio, as the whole cast reunited in front of Rio's skyline.
After speeches by Olympics supremo Lord Coe and Mr Rogge, the flame that reached all corners of the UK over 70 days was extinguished - the Games were over.