The atmosphere was electric as more than 7,500 singers, dancers, musicians and acrobats took centre stage at the Ashgabat Olympic Stadium, showcasing 'The Spirit of Turkmenistan' as a capacity crowd of 45,000 celebrated the Opening Ceremony of the biggest multi-sport event ever held in Central Asia.
Athletes, officials and spectators were invited to a captivating evocation of the soul of a nation from ancient times through until the present day through its spirit, symbols, history, music and art.
From dazzling displays of acrobatics on the country's famous Akhal-Teke horses and images of its beautiful carpets to a song from legendary Turkmen folk artist Jemal SAPAROVA and a spectacular fireworks finale, the show did exactly that.
The grand spectacle, which included 75,000 costume pieces and 700 tonnes of freight, revolved around a huge cylinder in the middle of the stadium.
The structure, 30 metres in diameter and suspended 30 metres above the stadium floor, projected 25 metre-high images and hid entire scene changes, sets and hundreds of members of the cast.
There was a roar of delight from the crowd as fire rose high into the sky from the cauldron atop the stadium after the lighting of the Games flame.
The cauldron sits on the neck of a giant white horse monument that was recently recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest architectural portrayal of a horse on the planet.
It was after the tolling of a bell and a blessing by Turkmenistan's esteemed President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOV early in the ceremony, that Ashgabat 2017 officially got under way.
The Chairman of the 5th AIMAG Executive Committee, Mr Dayanch GULGELDIYEV, said the Opening Ceremony was an important event in the country's history.
“Tonight, is truly a moment that the entire population of Turkmenistan has been looking forward to since we had the honour of being awarded the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games back in December 2010,” he said.
The most memorable ceremony of all time. That is what Turkmenistan wanted and that is what Balich Worldwide Shows, the Italian-based company responsible for the Opening and Closing ceremonies, delivered.
They pulled out all the stops to create an Opening Ceremony like no other.
“This is a very important moment for the Turkmen nation that shows the country in a grand way for the first time," said the Chairman of Balich Worldwide Shows, Marco BALICH.
“We had the responsibility for depicting what is going to be the perception of Turkmenistan for decades to come.”
Over the 12 days of competition at Ashgabat 2017, 4,500 athletes from 65 delegations will compete in 347 medal events across 21 sports.