Joe Biden's Inauguration Is Going to Look Different Than Past Ceremonies

Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as the 46th president on Jan. 20, but how much of his inauguration will be live, and how much will be pre-taped?


Jan. 20 2021, Published 11:56 a.m. ET

is the inauguration live

As America prepares to inaugurate Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States, many are wondering how this year's festivities will be different than previous inaugurations. Although some things will remain the same, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to smaller crowds and created the opportunity to do more virtually than has been done in years past. 

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Is the inauguration going to be live?

The actual swearing-in ceremony, where Biden will officially become the 46th president of the United States, will take place live and in-person in Washington, D.C. Although there are usually massive crowds gathered on the Washington Mall to celebrate history in the making, Biden's inauguration will prohibit live attendees thanks to both the pandemic and the violence in the Capitol that took place on Jan. 6. 

is the inauguration live
Source: Getty Images
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Even so, those watching the ceremony on TV or via streaming will still see Biden be sworn in as the president by Chief Justice John Roberts, and will also get to see Biden's address to the nation live and on-camera. Lady Gaga is also set to perform the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the ceremony, and Jennifer Lopez is also set to perform. Both women have traveled to Washington for the ceremony, and are likely to perform live.  

Other famous faces will appear as part of the inauguration celebration.

Although the swearing-in ceremony is the most formal part of the inauguration, there will also be a series of celebrations following the event that will feature a slew of celebrity guests. The first of these events will be a virtual "Parade Across America" where the University of Delaware and Howard University drumlines will kick off the parade by escorting Biden and Kamala Harris from 15th Street to the White House. 

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This piece of the parade will be live, but the event is also expected to feature some virtual segments from celebrities like Jon Stewart, Nathan Apodaca, the New Radicals, Andra Day, and Nile Rodgers. These segments will likely be a mix of virtual and live performances, although it's currently unclear which pieces of the event will live and which won't. 

Source: Instagram
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Celebrations of the inauguration will continue into the evening, with a Presidential Inauguration Ball and a "Celebrating America" primetime special. The Ball will feature a performance from Hamilton's Christopher Jackson, while the primetime special will feature a slew of other famous faces. The special will include performances from Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, and Ant Clemons, and will be hosted by Tom Hanks.  

The special will also feature appearances from the Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Eva Longoria, and Kerry Washington. It's unclear which of these performers and celebrities will be pre-recorded, and which will be live, but the event is designed to usher in a new era for America. It's also set to honor first-line workers and other American heroes who are serving their communities. 

All of these events will be available to stream on Biden's inauguration website, as well as a variety of other platforms, including ABC, CBS, CNN, and PBS. While it won't look like a normal inauguration, given the state of the world, it may be more than enough for eager viewers. 

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