By Gary Anderson at Celtic Park in Glasgow

An extravaganza of music and dance helped launch the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in Celtic Park tonight ©Getty ImagesAn extravaganza of music, dance and celebration got the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games off to a spectacular start here at Celtic Park tonight as the people of Glasgow and Scotland put on a party like only they can to start the 20th edition of the Games.


While quite rightly it will be the exploits of the athletes that will be the centre of attention over the next 11 days, there were stars of a different kind on show tonight as Rod Stewart, Billy Connolly, Susan Boyle and 71 Highland Terriers lit up the occasion here.

While Stewart, Boyle and other artists including Amy McDonald and local dance groups entertained the packed stands it was the little terriers who led each of the 71 teams into a into Celtic Park during the Athletes Parade that were a particular favourite and a uniquely Scottish touch.

Not surprisingly it was the host nation who got the longest and loudest cheer when they made their appearance at the end of the Athletes Parade, led by judo star and Flagbearer Euan Burton.

The host nation came on to The Shamen's Move any Mountain and while ambitious plans to "move" five of the famous Red Road tower blocks by organisers as part of the Ceremony were ultimately shelved, there was no doubting the raw power and  emotion inside this famous old football ground tonight as months of planning and rehearsing all came together.

Led by their very own Highland Terrier, the Scottish team entered Celtic Park to rapturous applause ©Getty Images Led by their very own Highland Terrier, the Scottish team entered Celtic Park to rapturous applause ©Getty Images




In a break from tradition the teams were welcomed on by their region rather than in alphabetical order as part of a unique UNICEF campaign that was cleverly woven into the night's proceedings.

Hosts of the last Games in Delhi, India were the first into the arena representing Asia, followed by the teams from Oceania, Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe.

In between each of the regions making their entrance a special video was broadcast on the huge screen running the length of the South Stand, which featured stars such as Sir Chris Hoy, Sachin Tendulkar, Colin Jackson and Sir Alex Ferguson.

The videos highlighted the work been done by UNICEF projects in each of the six regions of the Commonwealth and with an estimated one billion watching around the world on, Hoy and Scottish actor James McAvoy called on the watching millions to pick up their phone and text a donation, with UNICEF revealing that over £2.5 million ($4.3 million/€3.2 million) had been raised from UK donations alone by the time the Ceremony drew to a close.

Continuing on the theme of the six regions the Commonwealth Games Federation Flag was carried by Canadian Paralympic champion Chantal Peticlerc, Australian Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe, Jamaica's Olympic and world sprint champion Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Malaysian badminton star Nicol David, Kenya's Olympic champion Kip Keino and Scotland's former world and European judo champion, Graeme Randall.

The Commonwealth Games Federation Flag was carried on by some of the Commonwealth's greatest ever athletes at Celtic Park tonight ©Getty Images The Commonwealth Games Federation Flag was carried on by some of the Commonwealth's greatest ever athletes at Celtic Park tonight ©Getty Images



The Athletes Oath was read by Scottish Paralympian Libby Clegg, former Scottish shooter Donald McIntosh and wrestler Victor Keelan.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond then addressed the crowd and invited everyone to stand in a minutes silence to pay respects to the people who lost their lives on the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down over Ukraine last week. 

The moment was particularly poignant for Commonwealth Games Federation President Prince Imran who hails from Malaysia and he thanked Salmond for his kind words.

Then came the moment that everyone was waiting for as the Queen's Baton finally made its way into Celtic Park where Hoy bounded up to the platform to present it to the Queen.

What followed was hardly in the script as Prince Imran struggled to get the top of the Baton open to hand the Queen the paper containing her traditional message to open the Games.

But with the help of Hoy and after a few anxious moments under the gaze of Her Majesty, Prince Imran extricated the elusive piece of paper from the Baton and passed it to the Queen.

However, it appeared that 'one was amused' as The Queen shared a smile with her royal counterpart.
Queen Elizabeth II shares a smile with Commonwealth Games Federation President Prince Imran after problems with the Baton ©Getty Images Queen Elizabeth II shares a smile with Commonwealth Games Federation President Prince Imran after problems with the Baton ©Getty Images




"The Baton Relay represents a calling together of people from every part of the Commonwealth and serves as a reminder of our shared ideals and ambitions as a diverse, resourceful and cohesive family," said the Queen.

"And now, that Baton has arrived here in Glasgow, a city renowned for its dynamic cultural and sporting achievements, for the warmth of its people, for this Opening Ceremony of the Friendly Games."

The Queen went on to wish good luck to all the athletes taking part in competition and to thank the organisers, volunteers and workforce who made the Games possible.

She concluded: "It now gives me great pleasure to declare the 20th Commonwealth Games open."

To see more pictures of the Opening Ceremony click here

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