Picture gallery: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Stephen Hawking and Ian McKellen at opening of Paralympics

A fabulous fireworks display, appearances by Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir Ian McKellen and Baronesss Tanni Grey-Thompson, and gravity defying feats - that was the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

The show, titled Enlightenment, aimed to challenge perceptions and stereotypes about disabled people, and took viewers on a journey to gaining knowledge about the world around them.

Professor Hawking made a rare live appearance, telling the audience to “look up at the stars, and not down at your feet”. He continued: “Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

Main character Miranda, played by Nicola Miles Wildin, and Sir Ian, who played a Shakespearean Propero-like character, then journeyed through deep space, a giant library and a voyage across a sea of ideas.

During the show a number of performers took part in aerial work, including flying across the Stadium on wires.

The ceremony also included the world’s biggest apple bite in a tribute to Sir Issac Newton during the section of the show titled Gravity.

Baroness Grey-Thompson was among a group of Paralympians who flew into the Stadium as part of the show.

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The Paralympic Games were officially opened by the Queen, and attended by people including London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha.

The Paralympic Flame was brought in to the Stadium by Joe Townsend, 24, who lost both legs as a Royal Marine in Afghanistan. He flew in on a zip wire and landed on the field of play, where he handed the Flame to David Clarke, a member of the ParlympicsGB five-a-side football team.

He passed it to Margaret Maughan, winner of Great Britain’s first Paralympic gold medal at the 1960 Rome Games, who lit the cauldron.

See pictures from the opening ceremony in our gallery on this page.