(CNN) -- With lights, floats and flying, Russia kicked off the opening ceremony in Sochi as the world turns its attention to the costliest Olympic Games in history.
Spectators from all over the world watched the introduction of athletes that marked the official start of the Winter Olympics.
Light shows and music, lots of it, filled the air, starting at exactly 8:14 p.m. local time, or 20:14 in military time.
"Most of the ceremony focuses heavily on Russian classical music," said Konstantin Ernst, the main creative producer of the ceremony.
"Unfortunately, unlike London, we cannot boast a plethora of famous world-known pop performers. This is why we are now focusing on what Russia is best known for musically around the world; namely, classical music."
The celebration opened with a dream sequence of a little girl, who imagined all of the letters in the Russian alphabet, each letter recalling a Russian writer, artist or landmark.
Then the girl, rigged with wires, flew into the air and floated dreamlike over floats that depicted Russian landscapes.
The athletes followed.
Despite anxiety about terror strikes, controversy over gay rights and ridicule for poor preparations, the nation's officials have maintained that the sites in Sochi are secure.
It will be "the safest place on Earth during the Olympics," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Games.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who pushed the International Olympic Committee to hold the Games in the nation, attended the ceremony.
The opening ceremony was the only event scheduled for the day.
About 40,000 people watched from the stands at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi.
Russian classical music star Anna Netrebko performed the Olympic anthem.