A total of seven individuals were awarded by the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for their contributions in the fields of arts and entertainment, at the annual Kennedy Center Honors gala in Washington on 2 December.

The recipients honored at the 35th annual Kennedy Center Honors 2012 are bluesman Buddy Guy, actor and director Dustin Hoffman, comedian and television host David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova and rock band Led Zeppelin.

The Kennedy Center Honors recognise individuals for lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts - whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures or television.

"Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant transformed the sound of rock and roll with their lyricism and innovative song structures, infusing blues into the sound of rock and roll and laying the foundation for countless rock bands," Kennedy Center Chairman David M Rubenstein said in a statement, speaking about this year's honorees' contributions to the cultural life of America.

"Buddy Guy is a titan of the blues and has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century; Dustin Hoffman's unyielding commitment to the wide variety of roles he plays has made him one of the most versatile and iconoclastic actors of this or any other generation," he added.

The annual Honors gala saw a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage and had US President Barrack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as dignitary guests. In fact, Barack and Michelle Obama received the honorees at the White House prior to the gala performance.

The honorees were saluted by special performances by artists from New York, Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world.

A night before the Honors gala, the honorees attended a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Here is a selection of photos from the gala night...