Pop stars and pandas in PyeongChang: Best of the Closing Ceremony

Before the cauldron went out bringing an end to the Olympic Winter Games of PyeongChang 2018 on Sunday, viewers were treated to a cavalcade of technology, music and a taste of what’s to come in four years.  

The Closing Ceremony was underway in earnest well before the parade of athletes. An early section of the program titled “Light of Harmony” featured a sloped stage on which dancers defied gravity, accompanied by a 13-year-old Vivaldi-playing guitarist, before the lighting of the Prayer Pagoda signifying unity.

Shortly thereafter, Olympians entered the stadium in a less formal fashion than the Opening Ceremony, as per custom. First the closing flag bearers of their respective countries, followed by all the teams, quickly marched in and filled empty seats reserved for them around the venue. Meanwhile drones in the sky formed various designs. 

The next segment – “A Journey to Remember” – saw a giant turtle acted out by performers, then projected over the stadium to travel between worlds. This was to help remember those who couldn’t be at PyeongChang. In Korean culture the turtle is a mythic creature of great importance that bridges the gap between life and beyond.

As athletes are nearly all seated, “Axis of New Time” begins. This part of the program combined dance with digital media art to convey the idea that “time and space” are “a relative concept,” and a new start is always possible.

With a couple of medal presentations for the men’s 50km and women’s 30km cross-country skiing events out of the way, the main portion of the evening started next with K-Pop superstar CL entering the stadium with an entourage of dancers holding torches. She was followed by the singing group EXO traveling to centre stage on eight four-wheelers.

After a few more formalities, Beijing 2022 – home of the next Olympic Winter Games – did an eight minute long theatrical presentation with gliding pandas, luminescent screens, and skaters leaving digital lines to create the Games’ emblem.

Once Beijing thoroughly impressed, the speeches came next, including the official declaration of the closing of Games. That led to the final art piece, “Farewell From a Snowflake.” Arriving in a giant gift box in a pentagon shape like the stadium, the last part of the program saw children from the Opening Ceremony open the present to reveal a snow globe with PyeongChang’s landscape inside. Soon 400 performers appeared, and in formation with help of LED lights created a giant snowflake that resembles the emblem of the Games.

And as it usually does, the night ended with a dance party for the athletes and fireworks for everyone else.

Fireworks explode over the extinguished Olympic cauldron during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)