WATCH: Olympics Opening Ceremonies have left us with many classic moments

Rio 2016 carries the baton on Friday

WATCH: Olympics Opening Ceremonies have left us with many classic moments

The Olympic cauldron is lit during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

"Anticipation has a habit to set you up for disappointment in evening entertainment but..."

So spits Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner at the outset of their debut album. But while that sentiment could be true of nights out in Sheffield during the mid-noughties, it is anything but when it comes to Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

Indeed, Turner and the Arctic Monkeys were involved in London 2012's opening night as one of the musical acts who performed in front of a stadium full of people and billions of people watching across the globe.

The ceremony at every Games can go in any direction but we can be sure to be treated to a few established set pieces, from the parade of the nations led by flagbearers to the lighting of the Olympic torch.

 London 2012

Directed by Danny Boyle, it wasn't just any old ceremony. Indeed it was more of a theatrical extravaganza, telling the story of the United Kingdom from early times through the industrial revolution and beyond, as well as the culture of a nation which at that time appeared united in its multiplicity.

But it also featured a real highlight with the involvement of Queen Elizabeth II teaming up with Daniel Craig's James Bond to parachute jump out of a helicopter (obviously with stunt people carrying out that particular part of proceedings). 

There was so much packed into it, in terms of music, comedy and set pieces that in my own opinion, it's the opening ceremony I've enjoyed the most - especially impressive as Beijing 2008 was outstanding too.

And it had a beautiful ending with Paul McCartney on a grand piano singing us all out with that unforgettable Beatles classic 'Hey Jude'.

If you have exactly four hours on your hands, you can relive the entire London 2012 ceremony here.

Beijing 2008

In recent years, we have had a much clearer view into China with the slight opening up of relations between the country and the Western world.

Like London 2012, the Opening Ceremony in Beijing was well choreographed from the hypnotic drumming and chants of the performers to the fireworks display.

At one point, as you see above there are thousands of performers drumming in unison with their hands or with glow sticks (resonating wonderfully when the lights were turned off) and the choreography to get everything working like clockwork was impressive. 

There was one moment of controversy of a lip-synching nature however when a young singer called Lin Miaoke mimed "Ode to the Motherland" whereas the tune we had all heard was in fact a recording sung by another singer.

 Athens 2004

Greece and Athens in particular remain the spiritual home of the Olympic Games, thus 2004's Opening Ceremony paid some homage to mythology. 

Instead of lighting a cauldron however, 1996 Olympic sailing gold medalist Nikolaos Kaklamanakis lit a giant columned torch. 

The manner of lighting the cauldron is often symbolic as the two previous Opening Ceremonies show us.

Sydney 2000

In Australia, they went for symbolism with former 400 metre runner Cathy Freeman, who is Indigenous Australian, taking the final leg of the torch's journey.


Opening Ceremony - Sydney 2000 Olympics

She walks into the middle of a large cauldron of water book-ended by a waterfall, where she then lights a ring of fire around her. 

 Atlanta 1996

The recent passing of Muhammad Ali evoked memories of his own symbolic role in the 1996 Opening Ceremony where he was given the honour of lighting the flame.

It was all the more emotional for the watching world given that he was visibly battling the ravages of Parkinson's Disease.

You can watch the highlights from the rest of the 1996 Opening Ceremony right here:

Barcelona 1992

The lighting of the flame in Barcelona was also memorable as Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo shot a flaming arrow up into the night sky and into the cauldron.

What does Rio have in store for us on August 5th? Based on the ceremonies from the recent past, we can expect it to be spectacular.