London 2012 Olympics: Red Arrows and bell-ringers mark official start of Games

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THE Red Arrows helped kick-start the Olympic celebrations in Edinburgh as they launched a spectacular display across the city.

• Red Arrows fly over Edinburgh to mark start of London 2012

The Red Arrows fly over Edinburgh to mark the start of the 2012 Olympics. Picture: Toby Williams

The Red Arrows fly over Edinburgh to mark the start of the 2012 Olympics. Picture: Toby Williams

• People ring bells across the country

• Opening ceremony takes place tonight

Follow the opening ceremony live on scotsman.com

The nine high-powered Hawk aircraft soared over Edinburgh shortly after 12.30pm, leaving their trademark red, white and blue smoke trails.

People join the national bell-ringing event at the Scotsman Steps in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

People join the national bell-ringing event at the Scotsman Steps in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

They performed the “Big Battle” formation over Holyrood Park, flying up the Royal Mile, over Edinburgh Castle then over the crowds.

The aircraft are set to fly over each of the UK’s four capital cities today.

The display comes the day before they are set to perform as a seven man crew at this weekend’s East Fortune Airshow.

Earlier, around 300 people gathered at the Scotsman Steps in the centre of Edinburgh - site of artist Martin Creed’s Work 1059 - to each ring a bell to mark the end of the Cultural Olympiad.

The cacophony of sound is for the All The Bells event, the brainchild of Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Creed, who is encouraging everyone in the UK to ring a bell.

His piece of conceptual art, which has the official title Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes, was devised as part of the London 2012 Festival.

In London Big Ben chimed non-stop for three minutes to ring in the Olympic Games. The London landmark was joined by hundreds of churches and other organisations across the nation.

The hour bell of the landmark Palace of Westminster clock began chiming at 8.12am. It pealed 40 times over the following three minutes. Special permission had to be gained for the hour bell at the Palace of Westminster to be allowed to toll out of its regular sequence.

The bells at the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and Stormont in Northern Ireland and also rang so that all four Parliaments chimed in unison at 8.12am, London 2012 said.

Bells rang everywhere from Britain’s northernmost inhabited house in Skaw in the Shetland Isles, to the UK’s most westerly church in Tresco in the Scilly Isles.

It aims to set a world record for the largest number of bells to be rung simultaneously and can include any from children with handbells, through people ringing bicycle bells and doorbells, to experienced change ringing experts of tower bells and church bells.