Closing ceremony: A riot of colour, a splash of celebrity – and an evening that burned bright

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

'Festival of the Flame' brings Games to a close with a parade of eccentric delights, says Cahal Milmo

What began with a single flame 114 days ago became a conflagration of fire, music and magnificent sporting memory as the lights were brought down on London 2012 with the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympics.

The cauldron was extinguished at the climax of a spectacular show that mixed superstars Coldplay, Jay-Z and Rihanna with a baroque – at times darkly surreal – parade of fire-belching contraptions, snowstorms and human fireflies.

At the heart of the extravaganza were many of the 4,200 athletes whose endeavour has proven once and for all that the Paralympics is a stage for elite sport regardless of body shape. The host nation's team was led by two flagbearers who encapsulated that spirit perhaps more than any others – wheelchair racer David Weir and cyclist Sarah Storey, the holders of eight gold medals from London 2012 between them.

In his closing remarks to London 2012, Games chief Lord Coe said the last six weeks had banished the spectre of the 7/7 terrorist attacks, which took place a day after the capital had been awarded the Games in 2005, quoting a doctor who worked in the aftermath of the bombings and then as a Games Maker volunteer: "I have seen the worst of mankind. Now I have seen the best of mankind."

Lord Coe said: "In this country, we will never think of sport in the same way; we will never think of disability in the same way."

David Cameron said the Games and watching sports such as wheelchair rugby had caused him to reflect upon his disabled son, Ivan, who died in 2009. He said: "As every parent, you thinks of all the things they can't do. But actually the Paralympics is about how they are superhuman, about all the things they can do."

The athletes were joined in the stadium by another body of individuals who have refused to bow to the forces that shaped their bodies, wounded personnel from the armed services. There can have been few unfurlings of the Union flag more extraordinary than that completed last night by Captain Luke Sinnott. The 32-year-old lost both legs and his right arm in a bomb blast while serving with the Army in Afghanistan.

Suitably entitled "Festival of the Flame", the closing night followed in the footsteps of this summer's other Games ceremonies by pursuing a theme based on the host nation's eccentricity and eminence. This time it was Britain's seasons and its gatherings to worship light, culture and creativity. As well as a liking for fashioning vehicles out of scrap metal.

Kim Gavin, the artistic director, said: "Our 'Festival of the Flame' pays tribute to the gatherings that infuse the spirit of our nation, drawing on the ever-changing seasons that define us – from autumn equinox to summer solstice – and celebrating some of the ancient and modern traditions that have gathered down the ages." Some traditions were more avant garde than others. Whereas Middle England might have raised its eyebrows at Boyle's NHS beds, there would have been spluttering into cups of cocoa last night with the beatnik flavour of last night's Mad Max neo-Pagan pageantry, demonic stilt walkers and the fact that a key prop designer – Mutoid Waste – were at the heart of the 1990s illegal rave movement.

What unfolded before the 80,000-capacity audience, whose members included Prince Edward, was something of a retro junk yard son et lumiere with a distinct dash of steam punk.

The cornerstone of the progress through London 2012's adieu was Coldplay who performed alongside Rihanna and Jay-Z and a cavalcade of 1,300 tumblers, dancers, and singers – showcasing disabled performers.

Thomas Heatherwick's Cauldron was extinguished by ParalympicsGB stars Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock, each of its petals now to wend their way across to the globe to the nations that competed in the Olympics and Paralympics.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas