Rio 2016 Olympic opening ceremony
A spectacular display of pyrotechnics and video projections celebrating the culture of BrazilMarko Djurica/Reuters

The Rio Olympic ceremony showcased the best of Brazilian culture set to the sounds of the samba and capturing the spirit of carnival in the biggest dance party the world has ever seen. The event staged by the City of God director Fernando Ferreira Meirelles, saw an eclectic mix of celebrities join in the celebrations, while others turned to social media to show their support for the competing athletes.

Leading the way was Brazilian supermodel Gisele who sashayed across the Maracana stadium in a sparkling silver dress to the sound of The Girl from Ipanema, as she walked her last catwalk on the world's greatest stage.

Shrugging off nerves she said she was honoured to take part in the spectacle. "This is a very special moment for my country and I am humbled that they invited me to be a part of such a special celebration."

A host of Brazilian pop stars lead the crowd in a sing-along as the stadium was engulfed in pyrotechnics while 5000 dancers gyrated in afro wigs.

In a change of mood, Dame Judi Dench took centre stage as she leant her dulcet tones to the proceedings. The British star read out the poem "A Flor e a Náusea" in a somber moment, lamenting the concentration of carbon dioxide on the planet as the devastating long-term effects of pollution and rising sea levels were depicted in a dramatic visual.

Gisele
Gisele walked her last ever catwalk on the world's biggest stageGetty

The official flag bearer for England Wimbledon champion Andy Murray even managed to raise a smile as he led the British contingent, including Mo Farah, Nicola Adams, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford, and Alistair Brownlee, into the stadium. Describing it as the proudest moment of his career, the tennis star made sure not to drop the flag after his earlier mishap.

A disappointing no-show was legendary football star Pele, who had been billed to light the Olympic torch, but it was announced at the eleventh hour that he had to drop out due to health concerns.

A curious concoction of dance, dramatics and video projections, the opening ceremony was watched by 3 billion people around the world, however, the 80,000 seater stadium itself was only two-thirds full, as many Brazilians opted to boycott the spectacle in protest at the billion dollar cost of staging the event in the face of economic strife in Brazil.

A Brazilian presenter told the audience: "We are 60,000 people soon to be joined by three billion'.

The event has been marred from the outset by concerns over Zika, security, delays in the construction of the Olympic village, not to mention the biggest doping scandal in recent Olympic history and the ceremony too fell short of expectations. On Twitter, smug Brits couldn't help but exclaim in unison 'Ours was better' as Rio, with only half the $42 million budget spent on the London ceremony, failed to live up to London's 2012 extravaganza.

Rio 2016 Olympic opening ceremony
5000 volunteers took part in the biggest dance party the world has ever seenMarko Djurica/Reuters

Nevertheless, it is the biggest sporting event ever to take place in South America and with the world watching, everyone was rooting for their team, including Barack Obama.

The party's almost over. Let the games begin!