Fireworks Open Olympics
Five-hour ceremony gets under way
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2008 7:47 AM CDT
A dancer performs during the opening ceremonies for the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 8, 2008.    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
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(Newser) – The most impressive Olympic games on record began in explosive fashion today, as more than 80 heads of state and 91,000 spectators gathered in the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing. The five-hour opening ceremony began with a dazzling fireworks display, with hundreds of white-robed drummers playing in unison. In all, 15,000 performers and more than 20,000 fireworks will be used in the ceremony.

Sarah Brightman headlined, performing a specially commissioned tune with Chinese pop star Liu Huan, before the show moved into a stunning space-exploration-themed finale, with dancers representing 56 Chinese ethnic groups twirling through the stadium. “It's like being at some sort of mystical rave,” one BBC blogger wrote. “The scale of it is almost frightening.”