LONDON - With a little British pomp and a lot of British pop, London brought the curtain down on a glorious Olympic Games on Sunday in a spectacular, technicolour pageant of landmarks, lightshows and lots of fun.

The closing ceremony offered a sensory blast including rock 'n' roll rickshaws, dustbin percussionists, an exploding yellow car and a marching band in red tunics and bearskin hats.

The Spice Girls staged a show-stopping reunion, and Monty Python's Eric Idle sauntered through "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" — accompanied by Roman centurions, Scottish bagpipers and a human cannonball.

It all made for a psychedelic mashup that had 80,000 fans at Olympic Stadium stomping, cheering and singing along. Organizers estimated 300 million or more were watching around the world.

What a way to end a games far more successful than many Londoners expected. Security woes were overcome, and traffic nightmares never materialized. The weather held up, more or less, and British athletes overachieved.

It all came with a price tag of US$14 billion — three times the original estimate. But nobody wanted to spoil the fun with such mundane concerns, at least not on this night.

"We lit the flame, and we lit up the world," said London organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe. "When our time came, Britain, we did it right."

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge declared the Olympics over with praise for the athletes.

"Through your commitment to fair play, your respect for opponents, and your grace in defeat as well as in victory, you have earned the right to be called Olympians," he said, adding: "These were happy and glorious games."

But the night was about splash more than speeches.

Festive and fast-moving, the ceremony opened with pop bands Madness, Pet Shop Boys and One Direction, a shout-out to Winston Churchill and a tribute to the Union Jack — the floor of Olympic Stadium floor arranged to resemble the British flag.

Monochrome recreations of London landmarks were covered in newsprint, from Big Ben's clock tower and Tower Bridge to the London Eye ferris wheel and the chubby highrise known as the Gherkin.

Street percussion group Stomp built the noise into a frenzy, and dancers brandished brooms, in a nod to the spontaneous popular movement to clean up London after riots shook neighbourhoods not far from Olympic Stadium just a year ago.

Liam Gallagher performed "Wonderwall," a 1990s hit by his former band, Oasis, Muse rocked the house with the hard-edged Olympic anthem "Survival," and Queen guitarist Brian May was joined by singer Jessie J for a crowd-pleasing "We Will Rock You."

The headline performers were each paid a pound, a little more than $1.50.

The night ended with the extinguishing of the multi-petaled Olympic cauldron and a supercharged rendition of "My Generation" and other classics by The Who that had the crowd dancing in the aisles. Confetti rained down, and fireworks lit up the sky.

Prince William's wife, Kate, and Prince Harry took seats next to Rogge. They sang along to "God Save the Queen." There was no sign of the queen herself, who made a memorable mock parachute entrance at the July 27 opening ceremony.

Following Olympic tradition, the 10,800 athletes of the London Games marched in as one rather than with their nations, symbolizing the harmony and friendship inspired by the games.

As the crowd cheered their heroes and flashbulbs rippled through the stadium, the Olympians cheered back, some carrying national flags, others snapping photographs with smartphones and cameras.

They held hands, embraced and carried each other on their shoulders, finally forming a human mosh pit on the field.

Soccer star Christine Sinclair, known for her serious, focused demeanour on the pitch, was absolutely beaming as she brought the Canadian flag into Olympic Stadium with the nation's other flag-bearers.

The rest of the Canadian contingent followed soon after, dressed in denim jackets and khakis. Canada's outfits received mixed reviews on Twitter, with some planning to purchase their own jackets and others decrying the getup as stereotypical.

"Amazing. Great to walk in all together with many nations and athletes," said Canadian chef de mission Mark Tewksbury during the ceremony. "The pageantry of the flags coming into the stadium really made it sink in for me. We are being bombarded with great British pop."

The ceremony had something for everyone, from tween girls to 1960s hippies. The face of John Lennon appeared on the stadium floor, assembled by 101 fragments of sculpture, and just as quickly gave way to George Michael, Fatboy Slim and Annie Lennox.

Eight minutes were turned over to Brazil, host of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, which delivered an explosion of samba, sequins and Latin cool. Following tradition, the mayor of London handed the Olympic flag off to his Rio counterpart.

Britons, who had fretted for weeks that the games would become a fiasco, were buoyed by their biggest medal haul since 1908 — 29 golds and 65 medals in all.

The United States edged China in both the gold medal and total medal standings, eclipsing its best performance at an Olympics on foreign soil after the Dream Team narrowly held off Spain in basketball for the country's 46th gold.

While the games may have lacked some of the grandeur of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, there were more than a few unforgettable moments.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became an Olympic legend by repeating as champion in both the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints. Michael Phelps ended his long career as the most decorated Olympian in history.

British distance runner Mo Farah became a national treasure by sweeping the 5,000- and 10,000-metre races, and favourite daughter Jessica Ennis became a global phenomenon with her victory in the heptathlon.

Female athletes took centre stage in a way they never had before. American gymnast Gabby Douglas soared to gold, the U.S. soccer team made a dramatic march to the championship. Packed houses turned out to watch the new event of women's boxing. And women competed for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei for the first time.

And then there was Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee from South Africa running on carbon-fiber blades, who didn't win a medal but nonetheless left a champion. And sprinter Manteo Mitchell, who completed his leg of the 4x400 relay semifinal on a broken leg, allowing his team to qualify and win silver.

Britons seemed exhausted and exhilarated after two glorious weeks in the world's spotlight, and just months after the country celebrated the queen's 60th year on the throne with a magnificent pageant and street parties.

Some at Olympic Park acknowledged happy surprise that not much had gone wrong, and so much had gone right.

"I was a bit worried we wouldn't be able to live up to it," said Phil Akrill of Chichester. "But walking around here it's just unbelievable."

Even non-Brits were proud of their adopted homeland.

"It's just been a really nice thing to see," said Anja Ekelof, a Swede who now lives in Scotland. "The whole country has come together."

___

Associated Press writers Fergus Bell and Jill Lawless contributed to this report.

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@ queenchristina_ : Phew! Looks like Rio entertainment might be as bad as ours. #closingceremony

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@ London2012 : The Handover marks the first time a South American country will host the Olympic Games! #ClosingCeremony

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And if you are wondering who the brush guy is, here’s a clue:

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Right, after a few bizarre moments back there with Russell Brand dressed as a chocolate salesman, an octopus being vomited out the top of a van, the Spice Girls, Monty Python and a cannonball man, the very unbizarre Boris and formalities are to take place.

He’s probably already planning his trip to Rio and with his milky top hair, we’re sure Boris will go down a storm in Brazil.

Just don't let them see this... IT'S BORIS DANCING!!!!!!!!! to the Spice Girls

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@ HuffPostUK : Overhead view of the sadium - http://t.co/OE5fQZR3 #closingceremony http://t.co/67OTvbhG

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@ Dmendeskelly : The closing ceremony is making a mockery of road safety regulations.

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@ AntDeRosa : They got Oasis back together!!! #ClosingCeremony

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And the act that everyone seemed to want have done it. The Spice Girls are back! Just like 1996 where Team GB won 1 gold medal.

Fair play, girls. The crowd loved it..

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A bunch of 1990s models seem to have taken to the stage, including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell. I've lost the thread of this ceremony at the moment. I'm sure they'll pull it back. I HOPE they pull it back!

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George Michael is bossing this crowd now - they've woken up. Great to see him back on fantastic form. Must be a little bit lonely up there.

'Remember you are at the centre of the universe,' he tells the crowd. We certainly are, George.

george michael

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This really is the musical highlight of the night, there’s Freddie Mercury singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and 101 fragments of a broken sculpture which come together to form the face of John Lennon. He sings Imagine. I can’t imagine what this really has do with anything, but it’s pretty cool.

The show will crash on into the, er, 1990s. It’s London 2012 people, let it go.

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The white boxes which are coming out now and are forming a pyramid apparently represent the 303 sporting events in the Olympics.

And let’s not forget the marathon winner Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich – what a way to receive a medal! The whole (sort of) world is watching, mate. Well done.

pa14292802

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It's director Kim Gavin said it was London calling the world - for a party.

But have we had a bit too much joy?

Brits certainly seemed in a tetchy mood if their tweets were anything to go by - with many deciding the opening ceremony was a flop within minutes of the show starting.

Read in full

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The stadium is now packed with athletes. It's an incredible sight, but the music... it's Madness, Blur and the Pet Shop Boys again. That's a poor show. There's so many great tunes which would fit the mood.

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@ London2012 : We've just added new behind-the-scenes vids about what you're seeing in the #ClosingCeremony to our Ceremonies Explorer http://t.co/0r3PY5yJ

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@ JananGanesh : Opening ceremony, especially the "pandemonium" section, was the best thing I've ever seen. Thankfully nobody remembers closing ceremonies.

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@ Beltrew : Anyone else think #closingceremony is just a bit of a mad mess? In a not particularly good way.

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We’ve cheered, cried and been convinced that our Olympics heroes are indestructible for the last two weeks, and now’s the chance to show our appreciation.

Athletes from more than 200 nations enter the stadium to the sound of Elbow (the band, not the joint joining together the two bits of your arm).

Have a crack at naming them all http://huff.to/QUatZW We bet you can't

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It was the games where we met Team GB's golden couple, where gatecrashing gamesmaker Madhura Nagendra marched with India during the opening ceremony, and where we saw the prime minister do the Mexican wave.

So there were more than a few choices in our slideshow of top Olympic moments.

See all the pictures here: http://huff.to/PP1eFs

kiss

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Ah, the tear jerker. Last night we were in Mo Faradise, tonight we are in London paradise.

The day draws to a close and the Beatles (again) sounds up, but what’s this? A kink? Yes, it’s Ray Davies arriving in a black cab to play a hit even older than ‘Our House.’

To be fair Waterloo Sunset is a genius song.

FAST FACT: Count them.. that’s right there’s 10,000 lights transforming the newsprint city into a luminous funfair, ooooooh.

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@ KevinBrennanMP : It's a bit like the Brits so far #closingceremony

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@ HenryCP : This feels like a Smash Hits awards show. When will H from Steps start handing out the gongs? #closingceremony

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@ fleetstreetfox : Dear Spice Girls: please stay away from Harry Styles. Tabloid newspapers would explode. #closingceremony

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This really is working through the back catalogue of Britsh-ness. Now it’s Michael Caine in The Italian Job. A great film about a gang of criminals stealing gold from the Italians. The Olympic spirit lives on forever.

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Right, if you are British, you’ll know why the street party has made it into this ceremony. It’s the Diamond Jubilee and when it’s not raining, that’s what we Brits do, right. We street party.

Enter Madness who are performing ‘Our House’ – they seem to get dragged out for all these events to perform their 1982 hit which peaked at Number 5 in the charts. I wonder why it keep gets played? Thoughts welcome…

The Pet Shop Boys are on too now, rocking up on that classic London vehicle the rickshaw to play their 1985 hit ‘West End Girls’. It got to number 1. Now that’s a proper hit.

Oh god, now it’s One Direction. Tea anyone?

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We’ve rushed on from Rush Hour and now to scene two where from the top of Big Ben the figure of Winston Churchill appears – he’s played by Timothy Spall from The King’s Speech.

A giant piece of art work by Damien Hirst will be revealed at the end of these section. Try to contain yourselves!

FAST FACT: The Hirst floor cloth is 5,600 metres squared.

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london olympics

So, according to the media pack we are given when entering the stadium tonight’s ceremony is made up of 11 scenes. The first of these is entitled Rush Hour and it is supposed to show a journey through a day in the life of the city “from early morning rush hour to glittering sunset” – er, that’s the rat race isn’t it?

321 people take in this first part of the show including Julian Lloyd Webber and music from The Beatles (who are they? - answers on a postcard)

In the 'fast fact' section of our press pack it informs us there are 108 vehicles in this scene, including 8 skateboards and 8 folding bikes.

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gold

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@ KateRobbins : I'm presuming Boris will do a fifteen minute stand-up to warm audience up at closing ceremony.. BORIS live at the Apollo DVD for Xmas?

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Loading Slideshow...
  • Christine Sinclair Enters

    Soccer player Christine Sinclair carries the Canadian flag into the Closing Ceremonies of Olympic Games in London on Sunday August 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

  • Balancing Act

    Canadian athletes celebrate in the Closing Ceremonies of Olympic Games in London on Sunday August 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

  • Blanket Toss

    Canadian athletes celebrate in the Closing Ceremonies of Olympic Games in London on Sunday August 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

  • A Better View

    Canadian athletes celebrate in the Closing Ceremonies of Olympic Games in London on Sunday August 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

  • Draped In The Flag

    Canadian athlete Carol Huynh celebrates during the closing ceremonies of Olympic Games in London on Sunday August 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

  • A Job Well Done

    Canadian athletes celebrate in the Closing Ceremonies of Olympic Games in London on Sunday August 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

  • Celebrations!

    Canadian athletes celebrate in the Closing Ceremonies of Olympic Games in London on Sunday August 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Closing Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: The team from Japan parade into the stadium during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • Flag bearers parade during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Flag bearers parade during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Flag bearers are showered with confetti in Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Light bulbs glow on the heads of performing artists during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Graham McPherson, also known as Suggs, right, lead singer of British band Madness performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • A performer waves a British flag from a representation of St. Stephens' Tower during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • Actor Timothy Spall portrays Winston Churchill as he delivers a speech from atop a representation of St. Stephens' Tower during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Performers cycle on the stage during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • The Olympic Stadium is shown during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • British-Irish boy band One Direction performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Ray Davies sings "Waterloo Sunset", during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Kristy Wigglesworth)

  • Jessie J performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Kristy Wigglesworth)

  • British gold medallist in the men's 10,000-meter and 5000-meter events Mo Farah, center, attends the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • British comedian Russell Brand performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • British singer Annie Lennox performs "Little Bird" during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • British model Kate Moss poses on stage during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • George Michael performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • British singer George Michael performs "Freedom" during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • Cars drive around as part of a performance during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Athletes enter the Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Flag bearers parade during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Spice Girls perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • The Spice Girls perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • The Spice Girls perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • A group of volunteers crowd around a television camera man's iPad outside Olympic Stadium to watch the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • British DJ Fatboy Slim performs on a giant octopus during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • British singer George Michael performs d

    British singer George Michael performs during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in London on August 12, 2012. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Ethiopian athletes dance during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • British comedian Eric Idle performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Kristy Wigglesworth)

  • Bollywood dancers perform during a performance of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," by British comedian Eric Idle during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Closing Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Rio the next host city makes it's presentation during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

  • The Who guitarist Pete Townsend, left, and singer Roger Daltrey perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, performers pose take photographs of each other during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Fireworks light up the Olympics Stadium during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

  • Fireworks soar over the Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Soldiers carry the Olympic Flag for the handover to Rio de Janeiro during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, pyrotechnics light up the sky above the Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Eduardo Paes, Mayor Rio de Janeiro, the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics, waves the Olympic flag during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • Soak It All In

    French athletes watch as the Olympic Closing Ceremony comes to an end. (AP)



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