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Last Updated: Friday August 08 2008 16:00 GMT

Amazing start to the Olympics

A man in front of Beijing's National Stadium - the Birds' Nest

A magnificent opening ceremony at the national stadium in Beijing has marked the start of the 29th Olympic Games.

The spectacular display of music and dance from 10,000 Chinese performers has been watched on TV by an estimated one billion people.

Highlights of the four-hour celebration included firework displays and dancers painting with their feet.

There was also a parade of thousands of athletes from the 205 countries competing in the games.

The ceremony ended with the final leg of the Olympic torch relay and lighting of the Olympic flame - and marked the start of the biggest sporting competition in the world.

Sonali in Beijing
It started at 8.08pm on the eighth day of the eighth month (1.08pm UK time) as the number eight is believed to be very lucky in China. The organisers hope that it will be the greatest games ever.

China has been preparing for the Games for seven years, and spent a whopping 20billion on getting everything ready.