ICYMI: It’s officially the season of the Summer Olympics. And it all kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. EST on NBC at the opening ceremony for the Rio Summer Olympics at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The opening night of the games is really a competition of pomp and circumstance in itself. The ceremony provides the host country an opportunity to really play up its culture and values, and since Brazil is bursting with life, we’re expecting a lot out of the evening. “It’s going to be a very festive performance and a very lively atmosphere,” executive producer of NBC Olympics, Jim Bell, told Entertainment Weekly.
The night will include traditional elements like the release of doves and, of course, the lighting of the Olympic torch, but also promises some seriously exciting surprises and appearances. Here, we’ve rounded up the things we’re most excited to see unfold during the ceremony tonight. Let the Games begin!
1. Michael Phelps as Team U.S.A's Flag Bearer
That’s right. The most decorated Olympian ever will lead Team U.S.A’s parade into the stadium carrying the flag. “I’m honored to be chosen, proud to represent the U.S., and humbled at the significance of carrying the flag and all it stands for,” Phelps said in a statement. This will be his fifth appearance at an Olympic Games, but only his first appearance at any Olympic opening ceremony as he’s forgone them in the past because of its usually long duration. The swimmer, who made history in 2008 by winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, has said he will likely officially retire after these Games.
2. Gisele's Suprise Appearance
Rumors have surfaced that supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who hails from Brazil, will play a role in a performance dedicated to the nation’s history. Little has been released about her part in the show, but so far it’s attracting a bit of controversy. Regardless, we’re sure Bundchen will bring her beauty A-game, and we can’t wait to watch her strut during Brazil's shining moment.
3. Parade of Nations
Call us sentimental, but we love ourselves a little Parade of Nations. The Olympics are a celebration of the world, and there’s something very “we’re all in this together” about watching the best athletes from around the globe march together. Plus, we get to see the many chic opening ceremony outfits designed for each nation. Which brings us to our next point...
4. The Team U.S.A. Uniforms
Every year, Team U.S.A's athletes look particularly dapper during the opening ceremony thanks to uniforms courtesy of Ralph Lauren. The designer is well known for his classic all-American style, and this year's look promises to be no different. American Olympians will sport navy blue blazers with the official Ralph Lauren Olympics logo and a patriotic red, white, and blue undercollar detail. White pants and striped long-sleeved tees complete the outfits.
5. The Big Show
A large chunk of the opening ceremony is dedicated to a major performance honoring the host nation's culture, values, and customs. This year's production comes from the creative minds of Brazilian directors Fernando Meirelles (City of God), Andrucha Waddington (Eu Tu Eles), and Daniela Thomas (Linha de Passe). Over 35,000 professionals will play a role in the show, which will feature over 5,500 costumes. The performance will be driven by three themes—the garden, diversity, and joy—and will also focus on a message of peace. The only non-Brazilian featured in the show is Judi Dench, who will recite a Brazilian poem alongside Oscar-nominated Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro. Considering all this, the show promises to be electric and extremely entertaining.