The opening ceremony marks the start of the Olympics during both the summer and the winter games, and is a grand spectacle that brings together thousands of athletes and fans from around the world. It always features culturally significant performances based on the host country—making for one memorable celebration. Revisit some of the best that the Winter Games had to offer with these iconic and historic ceremonies.

Calgary, Canada – 1988
The games in Calgary were significant because it was the first Winter Olympics ever hosted by Canada. It was also the start of a momentous journey for many young athletes, as the Olympics often are. The sense of togetherness was strong for this ceremony, especially when the esteemed ice hockey team entered the crowded McMahon stadium last, and were met with energetic cheers from within the stadium and in living rooms worldwide.

Salt Lake City, Utah – 2002
Athletes, sports professionals, pop culture figures, and head officials took to ice skates for this opening ceremony, which was done entirely on an ice rink. However, the mood of the ceremony was generally a somber one, in respect to the events that happened on September 11 five months prior. But the patriotism shined through, and made for an emotional ceremony that embodied strength and resilience.

Turin, Italy – 2006
35,000 people were in attendance for a ceremony that gave the world a spectacular show in a way only Italy could pull off. The theme, “Passion Lives Here”, showed the true heart of this European country. The athletes were on full display, making the spirit of what the Games are all about come to life. Famed actress Sophia Loren carried the torch, marking the start of one of the most memorable, artistic opening ceremonies the Winter Games has seen.

Sochi, Russia – 2014
Sochi embodied a Russian winter wonderland theme for their opening ceremony in 2014. Dancers and acrobats performed to the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Prokoviev, including a breathtaking nod to Swan Lake in costumes aglow. The general disposition of the ceremony was optimism, which was a tactic that worked amidst the controversy surrounding the Sochi games.

The Olympics are a time of celebration and international unity, which these winter opening ceremonies delivered in spades.