LONDON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The sometimes spectacular, and often quirky and surprising opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was matched for craziness and bizarre sights in the closing ceremony held Sunday night in the Olympic Stadium, but with one big difference -- it was even more madly bonkers.
Thousands of athletes took the opportunity to party like mad, to a soundtrack supplied by top British artists.
They flooded into the stadium from all sides to fill up parts of a giant union flag on the stadium floor, designed by British artist Damien Hirst.
They partied to a 'Symphony of British Music', showcasing an hour of great British hits, starting with film of John Lennon, the Beatle murdered in New York in 1980, singing his idealistic hit 'Imagine' as a giant replica of his face was created in the center of the stadium.
The music brought out not just the breadth of British music, but also an underlying surreality, particularly with a Beatle's track 'Magical Mystery Tour' featuring dancing walruses and eggmen (from the lyrics of the song), and DJ Fatboy Slim whose appearance also heralded the arrival of the world's largest transparent plastic octopus, and whose eight limbs twitched disturbingly to the music.
The five-strong girl-band The Spice Girls reformed for the evening and were seen whizzing around the stadium on the top of black London taxis, belting out one of their hits.
The most surreal moment of a truly mad evening was the appearance of Monty Python star Eric Idle singing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' -- often sung by defeated sports fans to cheer themselves up -- complete with roller-skating nuns, morris dancers, dancing Roman centurions, frantic Indian bhangra dancers and a kilted-bagpipe band.
Earlier, Stomp, the physical theater group whose show has been running in the West End for 20 years, using giant models of London sights such as the London Eye, Tower Bridge, as percussion instruments.
Hundreds of lycra-clad children and teenagers pulled themselves into unlikely poses as the Beatles hit 'A Day in the Life' played.
Then the audience in the stadium and millions watching on TV and the Internet, saw an actor playing Sir Winston Churchill pop out of the the peeled top of the Big Ben tower, quoting the Shakespeare lines from 'The Tempest' heard in the opening ceremony, "Be not afeard, this isle is full of noises".
Music in this early segment (and also later in the show) was, in effect, the world's most expensive karaoke concert, with the audience in the stadium -- mostly Brits -- knowing the words to the songs and joining in.
The bands and artists who had created the hit music, an eclectic and very British mix of pop and rock tunes from the past 50 years.
More precisely it was not just British but very London, with music by artists from London -- like the 1980s ska band Madness -- or songs about London -- like the Pet Shop Boys with their hit 'West End Girls'.
Madness reprised 'Our House', which they had performed just two months earlier on top of Buckingham Palace as part of the concert to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
They were followed by the surrealistic sight of the Band of the Brigade of Guards -- the Queen's personal 'i-pod' -- playing Blur's 'Parklife', a 90s Britpop hit whose ironic and droll humor is a world away from the apparent formality of the scarlet-tunic clad musicians.
In the more formal, and more sane, parts of the evening Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) presented the winners medals for the men's marathon, and later took possession of the Olympic flag from london mayor Boris Johnson to then hand it over to Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes.
A segment from the 2016 Olympic Games host city Rio de Janeiro showcased its rich blend of cultures and dance, and climaxed with the appearance of legendary footballer Pele.
In a final speech, London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) chairman Lord Sebastian Coe said "Today sees the closing of a wonderful games in a wonderful city. We lit the flame and we lit up the world, for the third time in its history London was granted the trust of the Olympic movement and once again we have shown ourselves worthy of that trust."
To conclude the evening IOC President Rogge praised London's spectators and the Olympic volunteers.
He added, "You have earned the respect and admiration of a global audience. Through your commitment to fair play and your respect for opponents and grace in defeat as well as victory, you have earned the right to be called Olympians. These were happy and glorious Games."