The Beijing Olympics were brought to a colourful close last night in a ceremony featuring the spontaneous celebration of athletes and a hip performance by London, the next host city. Following a countdown in fireworks, a circle of 200 drummers at the centre of the 'Bird's Nest' National Stadium started the ceremony with a performance entitled 'Reunion'. As two massive drums floated overhead, more than 1,000 dancers with silver bells on yellow costumes surrounded them. They were joined by performers on glowing unicycles weaving in and out, and acrobats jumping with bouncy stilts strapped to their feet. Eight carts carrying more drums then encircled the ensemble, with acrobats clinging to the moving vehicles helping to beat out the rhythm. The first act recalled the opening ceremony, but it soon became much less formal, with the flags of the 204 participating countries and regions entering the stadium, followed by a surge of athletes carrying video cameras and banners. Zhang Ning, a double gold medal winner in badminton, carried the flag for the Chinese team. Following the medal presentation ceremony for the men's marathon, which was run yesterday morning, representatives of more than 1 million volunteers who made the Games possible and new members of the International Olympic Committee's athletes' commission entered the stadium. The chief organiser for the Beijing Games, Liu Qi, said the world had placed its trust in China for the Olympics. 'The Chinese people, teeming with enthusiasm, have honoured the commitments they solemnly made,' he said. IOC president Jacques Rogge praised China. 'These were truly exceptional Games,' he said. 'Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world.' The flag of Greece - the host for the last Olympics in 2004 and the home of the original Games - was raised, followed by the flag of Great Britain, which will host the next Games in London in 2012. A chorus of Chinese and foreign children sang the Olympic anthem as soldiers lowered the Olympic flag. Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong handed the staff holding the Olympic flag to Dr Rogge, who in turn passed it to London Mayor Boris Johnson to symbolically mark the end of the XXIX Olympics with an eye towards the next Games. The next host then put on a short performance after which the Olympic flame was extinguished. The final segment, 'Carnival' was dominated by singing. Several Chinese and foreign performers sang Beijing, Beijing, I Love Beijing including Chinese-American singer Lee-Hom Wang. They were followed by seven women in evening dresses who sang The Moon is Bright Tonight. In one of the more anticipated moments of the closing ceremony, Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, one of the greatest opera singers of modern times, joined well-known Chinese singer Song Zuying for the romantic The Flame of Love in both Chinese and English. Domingo, 67, has sung more than 100 different roles, while Song, a state-sponsored artist famous domestically for her folk songs and patriotic tunes, is reportedly a favourite of former president Jiang Zemin, who was present at the ceremony last night. A mixed group of singers, including mainland singer Wei Wei, next sang Surpass It as acrobatic performers flew through the air. Jackie Chan and other famous mainland and Hong Kong singers such as Andy Lau Tak-wah gave a rousing pop rendition of the Yunnan folk song Guest from Afar, Please Stay, which reflects the customs of the Yi people. Performers in the costumes of China's 55 ethnic minorities and cheerleaders danced around them, and fireworks once again burst in the sky to end the ceremony. Zhang Yimou, who directed both the opening and closing ceremonies, played down comparisons between the two, saying the finale had fewer chances for rehearsals and less space in the stadium. The opening ceremony was widely praised. 'If the opening ceremony was focused on presenting China's conditions, the closing ceremony was an expression of joy for a perfect completion of the Olympics,' Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying.