Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers (and giant cans of Irn Bru) welcome in Glasgow's Games

Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit

Glasgow

With a potential global audience of up to one billion people, all eyes were on the city of Glasgow to witness an exhilarating start to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The opening ceremony of the 20th Games got under way in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 40,000 spectators in the Celtic Park stadium with Scottish comedian Karen Dunbar welcoming the sporting nations to Scotland to mark the official start of the 11-day tournament where star athletes including Olympic medal winners Tom Daley, Usain Bolt and Mo Farah will all be competing.

From the moment the giant kilt lifted to reveal pantomime star John Barrowman, it was clear that the wit as well as the famous wisdom of the Scots was being showcased. So too the irrepressible spirit of the people of Glasgow. Where else would the disfigurement of a national symbol (albeit an Anglo-Irishman) - the traffic cone which has repeatedly and drunkenly been used to adorn the head of the Duke of Wellington in Royal Exchange Square for the past 30 years - be celebrated as part of a national story before a billion-strong television audience?

 

The ceremony had been quite rightly robbed of the gaudily insensitive and ill-thought out centrepiece that was to be the demolition of the remains of the Red Road flats. Instead they glittered defiantly in the sunset against the Glasgow skyline as the crowds streamed in.

It fell to Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle to deliver a sugary re-versioning of “Mull of Kintyre” in tribute to the Queen, a veteran of such evenings who has been attending the Games in her capacity as head of the Commonwealth since Edinburgh 1970. Meanwhile, as people inside Celtic Park luxuriating in the balmy evening roared their delight, the baton completed its 120,000 journey by Loch Lomond sea plane, landing and taxiing up the Clyde. For the best part of an hour the 4,500 athletes processed through the stadium, each team led by a Scots Terrier.

Video: Glasgow Games begin

Other adaptations to the venue include a specially created stage floor covering the entire pitch and a multi-coloured walkway specifically designed for the athlete's parade.

But this was more than just so much tartan kitsch. Proceedings would not have been complete without the presence of Billy Connolly, perhaps the most famous living Scot of all who started out as a welder in the Govan shipyards. He was beamed by videolink to proclaim his native city's support for the late South African President Nelson Mandela. This stadium has over years been the setting for some of sport's most hostile clashes between the city's Old Firm of Celtic and Rangers - two football sides divided bitterly by religious bigotry.

Singer John Barrowman performs during the opening ceremony (Getty) Singer John Barrowman performs during the opening ceremony (Getty)

Tonight it was, fittingly, a place welcoming people of all faiths and cultures for the start of the Friendly Games. India, the hosts of the previous Games in Delhi in 2010, were the first team to enter the arena and received a warm  welcome. The carping over the hundreds of millions spent on new venues, the security, the unsold tickets, the traffic jams and the no-show sports stars was blown away in a blaze of pyrotechnics and Scottishness. If the next 11 days is as pleasing this it will be a canny Games indeed.

The closing ceremony will take place at Hampden Park on the south side of the city, which has been transformed into an athletics venue, on 3 August.

Read more: Watch Susan Boyle perform at opening ceremony
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Business Development B2B - Year 1 OTE £25,000

£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Several opportunities to join t...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Administrator

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a small, busy team s...

Recruitment Genius: 2nd / 3rd Line IT Field Engineer

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT Support c...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works