Inauguration Q&A

Where can I watch the Inauguration online?

Please see this page of the Presidential Inaugural Committee for live streams of the Swearing-In Ceremony, Parade, and other inaugural events.

When is the 2013 U.S. Presidential Inauguration?

The U.S. Presidential Inauguration is typically held on January 20 after the presidential election, but because this date falls on a Sunday in 2013, the public inaugural ceremonies have been moved to Monday, January 21, 2013.  With that said, there was a private swearing-in ceremony for the president on January 20.

What events make up the Presidential Inauguration?

The inauguration of the U.S. President has changed over the centuries.  Today, the traditional activities that constitute Inauguration Day include morning worship, the trip to the Capitol, the swearing-in ceremonies of the Vice President and the President, the Inaugural Address, the exit of the outgoing president, the president’s luncheon, the Inaugural Parade, and an evening of inaugural balls.  For the history and background of these events, please see here.

How do I get tickets to the inaugural events?

Please see the page on Getting Tickets.

How many inaugural balls are scheduled for the Inauguration?

There is no limit to the number of balls that may be held, but only a handful of “official” balls are typically planned.  These are organized by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and are different from the more numerous “unofficial” balls which are organized by state societies, private organizations, businesses, and other groups.  For the 2005 inauguration of George W. Bush, eight official balls were held, and for the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama, ten were held.  In contrast, well over one hundred unofficial balls were held during the latter inauguration.

Who organizes official inaugural events?

Typically, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the Presidential Inaugural Committee organize major inaugural events. The Joint Task Force-National Capital Region also helps in organizing the Inaugural Parade.

Who is on the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies?

Members of both political parties from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are on the JCCIC.  For the 2013 inauguration, JCCIC committee members include Sen. Charles E. Schumer (Chairman), Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Who organizes unofficial inaugural events?

Unofficial events are organized by a wide range of groups, such as businesses, foundations, state societies, and private parties.  Many of these events are open to the public.

Inaugural volunteer opportunities available

Obamas_and_Bidens_at_Lincoln_Memorial_1-18-09_hires_090118-N-9954T-057On December 18, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) unveiled a public request form for tickets to official inaugural balls, and a form for those seeking to volunteer during the Inauguration. Although requests for inaugural ball tickets are no longer being taken, volunteers may still sign up through the following page:

  • Presidential Inaugural Committee Volunteer

Please note that volunteer opportunities may be limited, so it is best to sign up sooner rather than later.

Going to the Inauguration

The President and Vice President will be sworn in on January 20, 2009. Parking will be severely limited on Inauguration Day, but visitors may take public transportation (the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has set up a special Inauguration page with information on transportation during Inauguration Day).

Tickets are needed to enter specific viewing areas, the closer ones, but the viewing area for the swearing-in ceremony is quite large, and will stretch from the Capitol along the National Mall. Not all sections of the viewing area require tickets; the more distant parts of the viewing area will probably be served by large video screens.

Arrive early for required security screening and anticipate large crowds. Gates to the Inaugural Ceremony open at 9 a.m. and the musical prelude begins at 10 a.m. Be prepared to pass through several security screenings before reaching the section indicated on your ticket. There will be no check room for prohibited items.

All ticket holders are required to pass through security screening, including handbag inspection. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

    • Firearms and ammunition (either real or simulated)
    • Explosives of any kind (including fireworks)
    • Knives, blades, or sharp objects (of any length)
  • Mace and/or pepper spray
  • Sticks or poles
  • Pockets or hand tools, such as “Leatherman”
  • Packages
  • Backpacks
  • Large bags
  • Duffel bags
  • Suitcases
  • Thermoses
  • Coolers
  • Strollers
  • Umbrellas
  • Laser pointers
  • Signs
  • Posters
  • Animals (other than service animals)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event as determined by and at the discretion of the security screeners

The Swearing-In Ceremony will be held outdoors on the west front steps of the Capitol, and will begin at 11:30 a.m. on January 20. The vast majority of tickets are for standing room. All attending are expected to be in their places well ahead of 11:30 a.m. Once underway, the ceremony will last about an hour.

Be advised that January is historically cold and wet. Prepare for temperatures below freezing. Crowds will be large and you will likely be outside for several hours. Also, public tours of the Capitol Building are suspended from 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 16 through Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

Inaugural Ceremony Program

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has announced the following Inaugural line-up the 2009 Inaugural Ceremonies:

Musical Selections
The United States Marine Band

Musical Selections
The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA

Musical Selection
Aretha Franklin

Oath of Office Administered to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
By Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
The Honorable John Paul Stevens

Musical Selection, John Williams, composer/arranger
Itzhak Perlman, Violin
Yo-Yo Ma, Cello
Gabriela Montero, Piano
Anthony McGill, Clarinet

Oath of Office Administered to President-elect Barack H. Obama
By the Chief Justice of the United States
The Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.

Inaugural Address
The President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama

Elizabeth Alexander

The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

The National Anthem
The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”


Inaugural Parade

The Inauguration Parade, generally held on the afternoon of the swearing-in ceremony, will proceed the 15 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House. In 2005, it started at 2 p.m. It typically takes about two hours. In the past, there have been ticketed and non-ticketed viewing areas of the parade (a limited number of tickets are typically made available for bleacher seating through the (PIC)). Some ticketed Inaugural Parade seats may also be available through third parties, such as GreatSeats or eBay (see below for listings).

Requests to participate in the Inauguration Parade are submitted to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which will select the participants. The deadline for submitting applications to participate in the Inaugural Parade was 5 p.m. (EST) on November 18, 2008, but if you submitted an application in time you may contact the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee to inquire about it. In 2005, 57 applicant groups were chosen from the more than 300 who applied. If chosen, you are responsible for your own logistics (funding, transportation, lodging, etc.).

You may view alist of the first group of participants selected for the 2009 Inaugural Parade here.


View Map of the 2005 Inaugural Parade Route



Inaugural Participation

The Presidential Inaugural Committee has recently established sign-up forms for workers, volunteers and vendors for the 2009 Inauguration:

Other participation opportunites for the Inauguration:

Washington D.C.-Area Hotels, Rental Property, & Parking

Search for lodging in the Washington, D.C. area through the following web sites:


Inauguration History

Washington D.C. Tours & Activities

Daytime activities for Inauguration Week 2009:

  • Inauguration Scavenger Hunt of the Smithsonian Museums – January 17, 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Old Post Office Pavilion, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC (Price: $20). Join this daytime activity as you and your team search for items through the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C.
  • Secrets of Washington, D.C. Walking Tour – January 17, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m., Meet outside the Smithsonian Metro Stop at the INDEPENDENCE AVENUE, Washington, DC (Price: $20). Take a fascinating, guided tour around the National Mall where you’ll learn little known historical facts about our nation’s capital.
  • Photography 101: Photographing the Route of the Presidential Inaugural on Pennsylvania Avenue – January 18, 2:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC (Price: $40). Are you interested in taking photographs during the Inaugural Parade?  This photographing tour, led by professional photographer E. David Luria, will take you to different D.C. buildings where you can take your own pictures, and you’ll also learn where to position yourself to take good photos of the Inaugural Parade.
  • Slavery & Freedom in a Washington Neighborhood Walking Tour – January 19, 2009, 10:30 a.m., starting at the Sun Trust Bank Plaza at 18th Street and Columbia Road, N.W. in Washington, D.C. (Price: free). Neighborhood historians will take you on a tour of this old D.C. area.  Click the link above for more details.

Travel tours to Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration:

  • New York to Washington, D.C. Bus Trip – January 19, 2009 (12 p.m.) – January 20, 2009 (10 p.m.)
  • OrangeburgSC09 Presidential Inauguration Bus Trip – Bus trips from Atlanta and Orangeburg, SC
  • The Utopia Entertainment and Travel Company has availability for group inauguration packages from Philadelphia and other areas. Our ultimate package includes 4 night room or suite accommodations, 4 meals, round trip luxury transportation during entire stay, comprehensive insurance, and inauguration keepsakes. The cost – from $575 per person quad occupancy! (2 Queens). Visit our site,, and click on our destinations page. We are willing to assist serious inquiries regarding group inauguration packages from other locations and different hotels. After reviewing our website, you may contact us at 301-742-2444 or .  All packages based on limited availability.

If you are in need of a waterproof, tear-proof map while in town for the Inauguration, you may want to consider the Rand McNally fabMAP: Washington, D.C. Mall ($5.95).

The following sites offer general siteseeing tours in the Washington, D.C. area:


Add your inauguration tour here