The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Games lived up to its billing as "the world's greatest after-party" after wowing a global audience of millions with a spectacular celebration of British music and culture.
Organisers were given the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Danny Boyle's critically acclaimed curtain raiser that got the Games off to a flying star more than two weeks ago.
But scintillating performances from a galaxy of British pop stars - including the Spice Girls, Take That and The Who - and another display of thrilling British eccentricity made the last hurrah of the London Olympics a resounding hit.
The closing ceremony won a bigger average audience than the spectacular opening event, figures showed. It drew an average 22.9 million viewers to BBC1 - half a million more than saw Danny Boyle's mesmerising launch a fortnight earlier. A peak audience of 26.3 million was watching the event - created by artistic director Kim Gavin - at its height on BBC1, on a dedicated Olympic channel and on HD at 9.35pm.
The event set a new audience record for Olympic closing ceremonies, easily outstripping the previous high of 11 million for Barcelona in 1992. The peak was actually slightly down on the audience for the opening ceremony which reached a combined 26.9 million across several BBC channels.
Some of the biggest names in UK music from both past and present partied with volunteers, athletes and the world during the breathtaking close to the Games. Stars including Annie Lennox, Madness, the Pet Shop Boys, Kaiser Chiefs, George Michael, Tinie Tempah, Emeli Sande and Jessie J, along with faces such as Kate Moss, Russell Brand, Julian Lloyd Webber, Naomi Campbell and Darcey Bussell took to the stage to celebrate one of the nation's strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years.
The Olympic Stadium spectacle, which took place on top of a Union Jack stage designed by artist Damien Hirst, was watched by thousands of athletes who paraded through the 80,000-capacity area in front of cheering crowds.
The audience, which included Prince Harry, was first treated to a vision of working London that saw some of the city's most famous landmarks and sights wrapped in newspaper.
Evoking images of the past, from Winston Churchill and Edward Elgar through the psychedelic 60s to the highs and lows of the Games, the celebration also gave nods to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee as well as highlighting the country's love of comedy, recreating a famous scene from Only Fools And Horses and featuring Monty Python star Eric Idle.
London Mayor Boris Johnson was given the honour of passing the Olympic flag to International Olympic Committee boss Jacques Rogge, who who in turn presented it to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, with Brazil hosting the Games in 2016. London's night sky was then lit up by a dazzling array of fireworks to mark the final act of the Games.