London Life Events

paralympics opening ceremony

August 30, 2012

There are moments in one’s life that stay with us forever. The paralympics opening ceremony, for me, is one of those moments.

The excitement began as we walked towards our gate and seats. I had a lump in my throat that didn’t leave me until safely back in my own surroundings. I don’t think one can possibly imagine the magnitude of a stadium filled with 80.000 people, all in anticipation of what could possibly follow the outstanding olympics opening ceremony.

Well, let me tell you that this country could probably come up with a dozen spectacular opening ceremonies, each one different but equally full of creativity, exceptional design, choreography, sensitivity, musical choices and talent. It was once again a tour de force, a gutsy and spirited show, the kind of storytelling that makes me so proud to live in this country and call it my home!

For those of you who watched it on a screen somewhere let me extract some of the text we were given, explaining last night’s ceremony, entitled ‘enlightenment’:

“Through our central character, miranda, our point of consciousness is created and we follow her journey of discovery. She is guided by the world’s most celebrated scientist, professor stephen hawking, who reminds her to be curious and to look at the world as it really is if she is to understand it. Through miranda’s eyes we experience one of the world’s most remarkable discoveries, gravity, as well as the hadron collider at CERN and its importance in transforming our perception of our place in the universe. We also look out into deepest space and pay homage to the universal declaration of human rights.
On tonight’s journey we hope that you will join with us in celebrating the empowering possibilities of ideas, science and creativity, through which we can realise our full potential: who we are and who we aspire to be.”
bradley hemmings & jenny sealey, artistic directors, london 2012 paralympic games opening ceremony.

It was a visual feast and i want to thank my friend max for putting up with me taking 100’s of photos and sometimes asking him to stop tapping his feet to the rythm of the music so that my camera wouldn’t shake:) I wanted to document this incredible moment in my life and also be able to share some of it here with you.

I loved the little led screen of pixels – which apparently were called “para pixels” in front of every seat, which constantly changed colour. If you love colour, you would have loved last nights ceremony!

The empty chairs in anticipation of the paralympic athletes.

And here they come….. don’t worry i’m not going to show you every country:)

And now for the highlight…… yes, it’s #teamgb! The crowd went crazy.

Let the party begin…

All 80.000 spectators bit simultaneously into an apple we were given when we arrived, resulting in one enormous apple crunch!

For those of you who don’t recognise the next image. It’s the statue of  ‘alison lapper pregnant‘ and the fourth plinth in trafalgar square, here in london. Alison was born with no arms and shortened legs.

The lighting of the cauldron. Who will light it and how does the paralympic flame arrive in the stadium? Well, one of the highlights of the evening. Joe townsend was zip wired from the height of the orbit into the stadium. I think everyone stopped breathing for a few seconds. I did!

Margaret maughan, britain’s first ever paralympic gold medallist, now 84, lit the cauldron and concluded the ceremony.

And now the fireworks.

This was the first time the queen has officiated at the openings of both the olympic games and the paralympic games. The whole experience was magical and i’m humbled to have been part of it. It remains for me to wish all the paralympic athletes the best of luck, especially team gb, which i believe has already brought home gold and silver. We are honoured to have you compete in our world city.

Of course, there’s already much noise about channel 4 covering the games and the interruptions of ads. I’m not going to let this spoil my fun. Here’s to the next 10 days of brilliance, defiance, real heroes and ‘enlightenment’.

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  • Reply Chi@106 August 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Oh, boo! to the whiners and nay-sayers. The Paralympic Opening Ceremony was quite simply out of this world and so are your photos!
    How lucky you are to have witnessed such a seminal moment in history!

    I’m so disappointed that I’d forgotten to record it so I missed the first hour-and-a-half or so. I believe it began at 8pm and I didn’t start watching until 9.20pm. 🙁
    That said, I caught all the highlights you mentioned. My heart was literally in my mouth every time someone flew in on a zip wire but my favourite zip wire moment was when the athletes (the swimmer, sprinter, tennis player, etc.) all converged in the centre in mid-air – so balletic! 😀

    Another personal highlight for me was seeing my childhood friend’s brother come out with the US team. My heart could have burst with pride!

    It’s going to be an incredibly ground-breaking 10 days – so much more than the Olympics, I feel.

    Superb post, Tina. x

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Well, so far it’s going amazingly well, isn’t it? Team GB is doing us proud! I quite like all the controversy it’s attracting. For the fist time Paralympics Athletes are being honoured for the super humans they really are!!!

      Oh, thanks Chi, what a huge compliment!!

      The zip wire moment you mentioned was out of this world. It was really dark to photograph so knew I wouldn’t do it justice.

      Aww, what an incredible moment it must have been to see your childhood friend’s brother come out with the US team. I felt emotional throught the ceremony so cannot imagine what you felt…

      Here is to being second on the leaders board and we have nearly another whole week to go. Yay!!! x

  • Reply Theresa August 31, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Tina, thank you for sharing these beautiful photos and post with us as we didn’t get any coverage here in the States (that I could find). What an amazing opportunity to be able to attend the opening ceremony. Seems London did themselves proud again. You’re absolutely right about all the vibrant, spectacular color. You must of been in heaven. 🙂

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      I know you guys didn’t get any coverage!! It was just the best experience:)

  • Reply Ingrid August 31, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Gorgeous photos TIna,
    x i

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Ingrid:)

  • Reply Kelly August 31, 2012 at 11:41 am

    What fabulous photos, you’ve really captured the colour and spirit of the ceremony. It was humbling to watch and great to see that so many more countries represented in the Paralympics.

    You were so lucky to get to go to the ceremony, thanks for sharing your experiences with us x

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks Kelly. I feel truly humbled having experienced it live! x

      It was strange to see that India, for example, only had a few athletes whereby other smaller countries had tons… still a way to go but I think London has opened a can of worms for the Paralympics Games and we’ll see it go from strength to strength xx

  • Reply Holly August 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Woah! Tina your pictures are amazing! And the ceremony sure sounds like it was magical and emotional and fantastical (i know that’s not a word, but it fits and somehow expresses what I’m trying to convey)!

    Reading about the apple crunch really made me smile … Who thinks of that?! What a great idea 🙂

    And the whole concept is brilliant. Enlightenment. – just perfect.

    I can’t imagine what it must have been like to BE there, but I’m so glad you could share some of it with us here. And I’m so glad that you got to experience it.

    Awesome. Xx.

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      I rather like the word ‘fantastical’…let’s use it!!!

      The apples were part of the enlightenment theme, honouring Sir Isaac Newton and his method of testing the theory of gravity.

      Everything was perfect. On TV yesterday, some commentators and guests of a show about the Paralympics said they didn’t think the opening ceremony was as good. They were lacking big celebrity names. That’s exactly what made it special. Like good food, no need for sauces and crap to disguise the wonderful ingredients. This show was raw, pure and magnificent!

      Thanks love xx

  • Reply geraldine August 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Tina, you star! I turned the TV on just when the visual performance ended so didn’t get to see it – so it was lovely to see your post. Even better, you provided the insight to the performance – the note, the apple crunch… I caught a glimpse of that statue when someone was reading their Metro but didn’t know the story behind that piece of art. Thanks for sharing. No need to go to you tube now. My kids enjoyed the Paralympics at the Excel yesterday 🙂 x

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Oh, so glad you found this interesting and informative and that it gave you a little insight into the opening ceremony! Job done!!:))

      I bet your kid enjoyed the Paralympics at Excel. Did you take the cable car??

  • Reply Nicola August 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Tina – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Your photos are extraordinary!
    I watched the ceremony with a lump in my throat too, the music was exquisite – never heard of the composer before but will look him out now ( was following Paralympic tweets at same time to keep up ) Ian Dury choice an inspiration, the dancer who flew, all the zip wire technics. I even had a bowl of apples ready with a ‘to be eaten at 11pm’ sign on! I truly felt honoured to be a part of history seeing this spectacular rooted in our theatrical traditions and your photographs have now made me feel as if I was really there. Thank you x

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      Well thank you Ms teaandgee!!

      Me too, lump in my throat throughout. I also LOVED the music and hope they will release some kind of CD. Their choices were right on the money!

      I LOVE that you had a bowl of apples ready with a sign displayed…. priceless!!!

      You’re so right about the British spectaculars being rooted in theatrical tradition. That’s why they are masters at storytelling amongst knowing how to do ‘big’ events. I’ve never encountered this anywhere else. Pure genius!!

      Thank YOU xx

  • Reply Christine August 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Oh Tina, your photos made me feel like I was right there. Just fantastic. What an amazing experience and unforgettable like you said. Well done.

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      Oh, that’s so nice. I had 100’s of photos and didn’t know which ones to choose to relay best the events of that night. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. x

  • Reply Lauren September 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    You know, I can’t even be envious that you got to go because I’m so thrilled that you were there! How wonderful! And what electric, color-filled pictures! I’m so glad that the Paralympcis is getting more coverage (at least in your coverage…we’re looking at a lot of politics over here…thumbs down!), and I’m so thrilled for all the athletes. Great job, again Team GB, on everything.

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      I know what you mean. I would feel the same!!

      I think this year will change the perception of the Paralympics Games. Whether attitudes will change in the US I’m not sure about but it can only get better!!

      I’m also thrilled for the athletes. They deserve everything!!!! All of them xx

  • Reply Paige Elizabeth September 1, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Oh Tina! These are soooo beautiful! You did an incredible job! And I love your words. They make your photos even better. (Or is it the other way around?) You have such an amazing sense of how to set the scene and you always give me an inside glimpse that only you can. I love that you shared the info you were given before the event started. You have such an incredible eye… and heart…

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Paige, I want people to know that 10 minutes before I set off to the opening ceremony I called you in a panic and asked for advise how to best shoot in those conditions. Ive never taken photographs in a stadium filled with 80000 people, filled with flashing lights and fireworks.

      The results are thanks to you and your generous and sound advice. You give me such confidence!

      Thanks love and have a good time in the States. See you in November xx

  • Reply leah of sang the bird September 3, 2012 at 1:27 am

    i am lost for words. you have written with such beauty and excitement. i have goose bumps… thank you for sharing! xx

    • Reply tina September 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Aww, that’s a lovely comment…. you are so very welcome lovely xx

  • Reply Catherine Bedson September 4, 2012 at 4:11 am

    Spectacular opening event for the Paralympics, thanks for capturing the mood so perfectly with your beautiful, colour filled photos. Yes agree here’s to the real heroes.

    • Reply tina September 4, 2012 at 10:32 am

      So pleased you guys over there got to watch it. I can’t believe tomorrow it’s a week since the event.
      I’ve loved watching the Games so far and am so proud of #teamgb

      Thank you Catherine x

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey September 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    I’m delighted you got to go and that you were so touched by the whole experience 🙂 x

    • Reply tina September 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      I just wanted you to see the photos and how amazing the stadium is etc. Surely, that bit must appeal to your design aesthetics? It’s totally awesome!! x

  • Reply Igor September 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Tina! Thanks for pointing my nose to this post!! How fabulous are these photos!?!? Ok, can you please take some time to teach me how to use my camera next time??? I can literally feel the atmosphere by looking at your blog post! Fab!

    • Reply tina September 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      I just wanted you to see what an extraordinary event it was. Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for taking a look!
      You do very well with your photography Mr. Igor!

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