Centenary Square saw the opening of the Birmingham 2022 Festival tonight ©Getty Images

A spectacular free open-air show marked the opening of the Birmingham 2022 Festival here tonight.

Centenary Square was transformed into a giant stage for Wondrous Stories, a show inspired by stories of Birmingham past, past and future in an event seen as a vital part of the Commonwealth Games, due to open on July 28. 

The show combined immersive magical action, aerial displays, acrobatics and dance to celebrate the region’s connection to stories and storytelling, as characters tumbled out of a giant flying book into the night sky.

The crowd who gathered in a Square overlooked by the International Convention Centre and the Library of Birmingham, the largest public cultural space in Europe, included Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin. 

It featured Motionhouse’s internationally renowned professional dance-circus company alongside a community cast of 250 performers from Critical Mass, Freewheelin Dance Company, Motionhouse Youth, Sampad and DanceXchange.

The show brought a range of performances, from the tightly choreographed dancers on the ground at Centenary Square to the more dynamic aerial performers flying around high above the Square.

The show opened with live spoken word performance from Coventry and Birmingham-based artists Raza Hussain and Sebbie Mudhai.

Created by a local and international creative team led by artistic director Kevin Finnan, who choreographed the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London 2012.

It included digital projections by Logela Multimedia and Birmingham’s Choir With No Name sang to an uplifting soundtrack by Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson,

Different stories were told about Birmingham and the West Midlands, spelling out the importance of the stories people in the region have and how they should be told to everyone.

Wondrous Stories is due to run each day until Sunday (March 20) with free performances and is the first of more than 200 events taking place surrounding the Commonwealth Games.

The Festival, featuring a range of events from now until September will feature a host of performances designed to reflect the region's creativity and diversity.

Birmingham 2022 executive producer Raidene Carter promised it would create "a global platform to show off the home-grown talent of the West Midlands".

For a full list of events click here.