Everything You Need to Know About Joe Biden's 2021 Inauguration: How to Watch, Who's Performing and More

On Jan. 20, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office. To learn how to watch the ceremony and see which stars are performing, scroll on.

By Elyse Dupre Jan 20, 2021 11:00 AMTags
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Inauguration Day has arrived. 

Today, Jan. 20, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office, making Biden the 46th president of the United States and Harris the 49th vice president. She's much more than just no. 49, though: Harris will make history as the first woman, the first Black American and the first South Asian American to hold this position. 

While the ceremony will still take place at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., there will be several changes due to the global coronavirus pandemic. For instance, in-person attendance will be limited and traditions like the parade will be presented in a new way.

But that doesn't mean viewers across the globe can't take part at home. The ceremonies will be livestreamed and available to watch on TV. There will also be a number of virtual activities leading up to and being held on the big day, all centered on the theme of America United.

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For a complete guide to the 59th inaugural ceremonies, scroll on.

What time will the ceremonies begin?

The 20th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that the president and vice president's terms begin at noon ET on Jan. 20. So, the inaugural ceremony will start shortly before then. The vice president is sworn in first followed by the president. After taking the oath of office, the president gives an inaugural address.

Biden, Harris and their spouses—incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and the first Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff—will then participate in a Pass in Review with members of the military. Following this tradition, they will visit Arlington National Cemetery—along with former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Afterwards, Biden will receive a presidential escort to the White House by representatives from each military branch. 

There will then be a virtual Parade Across America on TV followed by a prime-time program called Celebrating America, which will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.

How can I watch?

Not only will the inauguration ceremonies be televised, but they will also be streamed online, including on the Presidential Inaugural Committee's (PIC) website and on its Facebook, Twitter, Twitch and YouTube channels. News organizations, like The New York Times, will stream them on their websites, as well. 

As for the Celebrating America prime-time program, it will air live on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and MSNBC and also be available to stream live on the PIC's social media accounts. In addition, Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW from Fox, and AT&T DIRECTV and U-verse will air the program live.

Where exactly will the inauguration ceremony take place?

Biden and Harris will be sworn in on the West front of the U.S. Capitol. According to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, there have been 58 presidential inaugural ceremonies at more than 10 different locations over the course of America's history.

Who's going to take part in the ceremony?

Get ready for a star-studded day. Lady Gaga is set to sing the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez is scheduled to perform. Father Leo J. O'Donovan, a longtime friend of Biden who led the funeral service for his late son Beau, is expected to deliver the invocation, as well. In addition, Andrea Hall, President of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920, will recite the Pledge of Allegiance and Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, will share a poetry reading. Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Delaware, who also worked with Beau, will deliver the benediction.

And what about the Celebrating America program?

Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi LovatoJustin Timberlake, the Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen are all slated to perform. In addition, Tom Hanks will host the 90-minute show, and Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington are expected to introduce segments throughout the night

You'll also get more Biden and Harris, who will once again address the nation. According to a press release, "the program will showcase the American people's resilience, heroism and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild."

Anything else I should know?

In the days leading up to the inauguration, there will be a number of virtual activities, starting with a welcome event on Jan. 16 that will celebrate America's changemakers. Whoopi GoldbergNik DodaniCristela Alonzo, Darren Criss, Rep. Grace Meng, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Resistance Revival Choir and the Black Pumas are all expected to participate. It will be streamed from the Presidential Inaugural Committee's website and social media channels beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Plus, there will be a virtual inaugural concert hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and Debra Messing on Jan. 17. It will air on the Presidential Inaugural Committee's website and social media channels starting at 8:00 p.m. ET and feature AJRMichael BivensConnie BrittonSophia Bush, Jaimie CamilFall Out BoyBen Harper, Carole King, Kal PennJames Taylor, and will.i.am.

On Jan. 18, there will be a National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service program that will stream from 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on the Presidential Inaugural Committee's website and social media channels. Aloe Blacc, Rev. Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, Chesca, Rep. Sharice Davids, Rosario Dawson, Andra Day, Yo-Yo Ma, Rev. Al Sharpton, Sean Patrick Thomas, Diane Warren, Lynn Whitfield and Bebe Winans are expected to take part.

In addition, there will be a nationwide memorial to remember the lives lost to COVID-19 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 19.