China put on an extravagant farewell to the Olympics last night, while David Beckham, the world's most famous soccer player, kicked a ball to start the countdown to London 2012.
Launching a huge party to wrap up the greatest sporting show on earth, thousands of athletes poured in from all four corners of the stadium, blowing kisses and waving flags.
The towering figure of Chinese basketball star Yao Ming was seen grinning from ear to ear.
Two giant drums were hoisted into the sky, with two pairs of suspended drummers thumping out a hypnotic beat.
The stadium was turned into a kaleidoscope of glittering colors, as about 200 acrobats took giant leaps and somersaulted across a stage on spring-heeled stilts.
There were speeches from Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organising Committee, and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, the latter officially declaring the Beijing Games to be over.
Rogge and Guo Jinlong, the mayor of Beijing, then handed over the Olympic Flag to Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, host city of the next Olympics in 2012.
It heralded the start of an eight-minute segment for London organizers to showcase the 2012 Games, with a red London bus driven into the stadium.
Singer Leona Lewis and former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page emerged as the bus transformed into a grass-covered carnival float, and the pair combined for a rendition of "Whole Lotta Love".
The biggest star turn came when a grinning Beckham kicked the ball off the top of the bus into the hands of a delighted Games volunteer.
The Olympic flame was then extinguished but the carnival continued in the night with songs and dances.