British supergroup Coldplay provided the backdrop to a three-hour extravaganza interspersed with dance and performance at the Olympic Stadium in east London, belting out hits including "Clocks", "The Scientist" and "Yellow".
"Being asked to play at the Paralympic Closing Ceremony in our home town is a huge honour," said lead singer Chris Martin.
"This will be the biggest night of our lives," added Martin, who is married to US actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
The band, who have sold more than 50 million records worldwide, accepted a fee of £1 ($1.60, 1.25 euros) to headline the show.
The ceremony kicked off with a procession of fire jugglers, a parade of drummers carrying blazing beacons, and a giant burning model cyclist who wheeled around the stadium.
Dressed unusually modestly in a flowing orange gown and veil, Barbados star Rihanna sailed into the show onboard a model ship and sang a steamy duet with Martin, before performing another number on a swing strung high over the stadium.
Trapeze artists tumbled from the skies as sparks flew from above their heads in a festival-themed show watched by 80,000 spectators in the stadium and millions worldwide on television.
Outlandish vehicles also played a central role in the show, with trucks including a giant dinosaur made of 25 old BMWs, a whale built from an old helicopter and a giant grasshopper joining the parade.
Drummer Mat Fraser, who was born with deformed arms after his mother took the drug thalidomide during her pregnancy, performed a number with Coldplay after Martin watched him perform during the Paralympic opening ceremony.
A cast of 1,336 volunteers from around the world and more than 50 drummers were also among the performers in a show with themes ranging from military sacrifice to the changing seasons.
The next Paralympic hosts, Rio de Janeiro, provided a carnival-flavoured taste of 2016 with a colourful segment featuring "dance battles" between performers of different styles.
Roberta Marquez and Thiago Soares, both Brazilian stars of the British Royal Ballet, performed with a group of Brazilian visually-impaired dancers.
There was a huge sigh from the packed stadium as International Paralympic Committee chief Philip Craven declared the London Games officially closed, before British athletes Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock extinguished the flame.
"These have been quite simply amazing Paralympic Games," said Craven.
US rapper-producer Jay-Z lifted the mood, joining Coldplay and Rihanna -- now in a more customary transparent top and shiny black skirt -- to perform his hit, "Run This Town".
As fireworks exploded over the stadium and the River Thames in the final minutes of London's summer-long festival of elite sport, a message was projected onto Britain's Houses of Parliament: "Thank you London, thank you UK."