Sochi Closing Ceremony
The Fisht Stadium erupted in a dramatic display of fireworks. Reuters

The curtains came down on the Sochi Winter Olympics midst a dramatic explosion of pyrotechnics that lit up the stadium.

And while it was a perfect finale, the Sochi Olympics was memorable for its less than perfect opening, its diplomatic controversies and its exorbitant cost.

The event which, comprised 16 days of winter sports, with 2,800 athletes going for gold, was the most expensive and one of the most controversial Olympics in recent times.

Sochi Winter Olympics
Athletes representing 88 competing nations flooded the stadium to celebrate the end of the winter Olympics. Reuters

The £51 billion budget that exceeded Beijing's effort, wasn't enough to thwart a malfunction in the opening show or silence the detractors, but in the end the Russians showed they do have a sense of humour bringing some fun to the proceedings amidst a celebration of Russian art, culture and tradition.

The organisers poked fun at themselves as a group of dancers recreated the Olympic symbol mocking the moment a ring failed to open during the opening ceremony.

Sochi Closing Ceremony
The ceremony paid tribute to Russia's rich cultural heritage with a performance inspired by the Bolshoi Ballet. Reuters

Clearly over the early embarrassment, the ceremony continued with an extravagant display of theatrics, drawing on Russia's rich cultural heritage, with balletic performances inspired byt he world famous Bolshoi, classical music and references to literary giants such as Tolstoy, before the Olympic flame was finally extinguished.

Sochi Closing Ceremony
The event featured the biggest mass volunteering programme Russia has ever seen. Reuters

Conceived by Italian, Danele Finzi Pasca the eagerly anticipated ceremony opened with a dramatic light-show representing the ocean, with children rowing across in a floating boat.

Dancers suspended from the roof, soared through the Fisht Stadium, while a performer floated across the arena dressed as an angel in keeping with the angelic winter theme.

Sochi Closing Ceremony
A big red top was constructed centre stage with circus performers, clowns and trapeze artists. Reuters

Acknowledging Russia's circus tradition, hundreds of clowns, illusionists trapeze artists and acrobats flocked into the arena transforming it into a Big Top.

Dressed in the traditional costumes of Russia and army of volunteers wearing fur hats and embroidered attire filled the stadium, in the largest mass volunteer programme Russia has ever seen.

All 88 international members of the Sochi delegation then walked out into the arena to the roars of the crowd, with the biggest cheers reserved for the Russian team who topped the Sochi medals table, with a record 13 golds and 33 medals in total.

Sochi Closing Ceremony
President Vladimir Putin watches the proceedings along with members of the Olympic Committee. Reuters

The jubilant athletes leapt into the air as the crowd welcomed them with triumphant chants of 'Ro-ssi-ya! while Russian President Vladimir Putin stood up to applaud the home team.

As the proceedings came to a close , the Russian flag was raised to the sound of the country's national anthem. And with the playing of theOlympic anthem, the handover began for South Korea.

In a poignant speech, spoken in English, Russia's head of the Sochi Olympics Dmitry Chernyshenko said: "It is a great moment in our history a moment to cherish and pass on to the next generation, a moment which will never be forgotten. This is the new face of Russia, our Russia. And for us these Games are the best ever."

"We did it, we conquered the Olympic summit and these Games will be with us forever."

Sochi Closing Ceremony
Head of the IOC Thomas Bach made a poignant plea for peace. Reuters

Head of the IOC Thomas Bach used the occasion to make a plea for peace in the region which has been stricken by ongoing political turmoil and violence following protests in Kiev. He said: "I appeal to every body implicated in confrontation, oppression or violence, act on this Olympic message of dialogue and peace."

He also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for "his personal commitment to the extraordinary success" of the Sochi Games.

In what was described as one of the most emotional moments of the closing ceremony, 900 children carrying small flames marched through the stadium lead by a 26 foot tall bear who huffed and puffed till he blew out the flameon the Olympic torch, offically marking the end of the Olympics as a single tear rolled down the bear's cheek.

Sochi Closing Ceremony
The Olympic mascots prepare to blow out the flame marking the end of the winter Olympics. Reuters

It's a far cry from the endless controversy the event provoked, with Russia's ban on homosexual propaganda leading to members of punk protest band Pussy Riot being whipped by Cossacks while performing inside the park.

The event was also marred with allegations of cheating and unfair judging with five competitors having been thrown out of the competiton after they were caught in the most extensive anti-doping program in Winter Olympic history, with the IOC conducting a record 2,453 tests.

Sochi Closing Ceremony
The ceremony ended with a handover to South Korea and a message of good luck. Reuters

South Korea now takes on the task of staging the next Winter Olympics and they plan to do so for the comparatively modest sum of £7 billion.