2021 Inauguration Day Schedule & FAQ’s


President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office tomorrow, January 20th, in a ceremony that will keep with tradition while being unlike any other inauguration in U.S. history. This year’s inaugural theme “America United” aims to restore “the soul of America,” bring the country together, and create “a path to a brighter future.” While Americans have been discouraged from traveling to D.C. due to security threats following the deadly Capitol Insurrection, as well as the ongoing pandemic, the Presidential Inaugural Committee is offering many ways for citizens to celebrate from home this week. Here are some frequently asked questions and the schedule for tomorrow’s 2021 Inauguration Day.

2021 Inauguration Day
Preparations take place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building. (Associated Press Photo/Patrick Semansky)




Q: When is the Inauguration?

The 59th inaugural ceremonies are scheduled for Jan. 20, 2021 at approximately 11 a.m. EST outside the U.S. Capitol.

Q: Who is in charge of the inauguration?

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has been responsible for the planning of the inauguration since 1901. Made up of a joint committee of House and Senate lawmakers, the JCCIC oversees the construction of the inaugural platform on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, the oath-taking ceremony and a luncheon for the president and vice president.

Q: How has the riot at the Capitol changed security plans for the 2021 Inauguration Day?

As a result of Trump supporters attempting to stop the affirmation of Biden’s victory at the capitol, a security force made up of over 6,000 National Guard troops from six nearby states will help Capitol Police and other law enforcement in D.C. over the next month.

“Unscalable” fences have been erected around the Capitol grounds. “The safety and security of all those participating in the 59th Presidential Inauguration is of the utmost importance,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

Q: Are there any performances?

Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez will headline the ceremony. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event.

Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons.

Q: Who will be in attendance?

As the case with previous inaugurations, most of Congress and the Supreme Court are expected to be in attendance, as are some former presidents. Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are set to attend, as are former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Jimmy Carter, the country’s oldest living former president, at 96, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter will not be there, but they sent their “best wishes.” 

After the Capitol riot on January 6th, President Donald Trump seems to have pulled back from making public appearances. On January 8th, he said he would not attend the inauguration of Joe Biden, making him the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869. Vice President Mike Pence will attend.

Q: Who will be swearing in Biden and Harris?

As is tradition, the chief justice, John Roberts, will administer the oath of office to Biden just after 12 P.M. Biden will take the oath with his 127-year-old, 5-inch-thick family Bible, which will be held by his wife, Jill Biden.

Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court. Sotomayor has experience swearing in vice presidents — she administered the oath to Biden as vice president in 2013. Harris will be sworn in on two Bibles — one that belonged to a close family friend named Regina Shelton and another that belonged to Thurgood Marshall.

Q: What events are happening leading up to the inauguration?

An array of events have occurred in the days leading up to inauguration. This evening at 5:30 p.m. EST, there will be a lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to honor those killed by the Coronavirus. The Presidential Inaugural Committee said that it would be the “first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool to memorialize American lives lost.” At the same time, buildings across the country, including the Empire State Building in New York and the Space Needle in Seattle, will be illuminated.

The “Field of Flags” seen at the National Mall, as part of a memorial paying tribute to the U.S. citizens who have died from COVID-19, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 18, 2021. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)


2021 Inauguration Day Schedule of Events:



10 A.M. – 12:30 P.M. EST: Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans

The Presidential Inauguration Committe will host a first-ever curated livestream for young Americans before and during the Inaugural Ceremonies. The livestream, hosted by award winning entertainer and advocate Keke Palmer, will feature a special message from Dr. Jill Biden; commentary from historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erica Armstrong Dunbar; a segment on presidential pets produced by Nickelodeon; excerpts of student voices from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs “We the Young People” programming; trivia questions, including some asked by Doug Emhoff; segments produced by the Library of Congress; and other special features.

The event will be live streamed at BidenInaugural.org/youth and on the committee’s YouTube channel; broadcasted by Nickelodeon and Discovery Education and streamed via their websites, apps, and social media platforms.


11 A.M. EST: Inaugural Ceremonies

The invocation, pledge of allegiance, and opening performances will occur. President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn in on the West front of the U.S. Capitol building at approximately 12 p.m. After they take their oaths of office, President-elect Biden will deliver an inaugural address laying out his vision to defeat the pandemic, and to build, unify and heal the nation. 

Streamed at BidenInaugural.org/watch and expected to be carried live on all major networks and platforms.


TBD: Pass in Review

Following the ceremony, Biden and Harris will participate in a Pass in Review on the East front with members of the military. It’s a longstanding military tradition that reflects the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander-in-chief.

Streamed at BidenInaugural.org/watch and PIC’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch and expected to be carried live on all major networks and platforms. 


2:30 P.M. to 3 P.M. EST: Wreath Laying at Arlington National Cemetery

Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff are scheduled to visit Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They’ll be joined by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Streamed at BidenInaugural.org/watch and PIC’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch and expected to be carried live on all major networks and platforms. 


3:15 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. EST: Presidential Escort

Joe Biden will receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House. Every branch of the military will be represented, including The U.S. Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps from the 3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard.”

Streamed at BidenInaugural.org/watch and PIC’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch and expected to be carried live on all major networks and platforms. 

“2021 Biden Harris Inauguration” seen within the expanded protective perimeter around the White House on January 17, 2021. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)


TBD: Virtual Parade Across America

A televised “Parade Across America” will feature “diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country,” the committee said. The event, hosted by the actor Tony Goldwyn, will feature appearances by Earth, Wind and Fire and former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart.

Streamed at BidenInaugural.org/watch and PIC’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch and expected to be carried live on all major networks and platforms. 


8:30 P.M. EST: Celebrating America Primetime Special

Hosted by Tom Hanks, this 90-minute prime-time program will feature remarks from President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and include remarks and performances that represent the rich diversity and extensive talent America offers. Celebrating America will feature Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, and Kerry Washington.

Carried live by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and PBS. Streamed at BidenInaugural.org/watch;PIC social media channels, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch

2021 Inauguration Day
Photo Courtesy of wusa9.com

For up-to-date information about the 2021 Inauguration Day schedule, visit the committee’s website.

Adia Atwell
Author: Adia Atwell