clock menu more-arrow no yes

Trump inauguration time, how to watch live, and what to expect

After more than a year of campaigning, 26 primary and general election debates, and countless press conferences, attack ads, victory speeches, public apologies, and early morning Twitter rants, Donald Trump’s inauguration is here.

On Friday, January 20, Trump will officially be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Event planners are estimating that 900,000 people will attend Trump’s swearing-in ceremony and the ensuing parade — about half the turnout of President Barack Obama’s record-holding 2008 inauguration ceremony. There’s also a growing boycott among congressional Democrats; more than 50 lawmakers have said they will not attend Friday’s ceremonies.

If you’re not in Washington, DC, or if you want to avoid the crowds, here’s what to expect for the rest of the week:

Schedule

Thursday:

A wreath-laying ceremony will begin at 3 pm Eastern at Arlington National Cemetery, kicking off the inaugural events. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be in attendance, laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The welcome ceremony, which will include musical performances and an appearance from the president-elect, will begin at 4 pm Eastern at the Lincoln Memorial. The event will include performances and appearances from Toby Keith, Jon Voight, the Piano Guys, Lee Greenwood, DJ Ravidrums, 3 Doors Down, and the Frontmen of Country.

Friday:

The inaugural swearing-in ceremony will begin at 11:30 Eastern on the western front of the Capitol building, where Trump will take the oath of office and make his inaugural address to the American people.

The inaugural parade will follow the swearing-in ceremony, scheduled to begin at 3 pm Eastern and make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House.

Trump, Pence, and their wives will attend three official inaugural balls. Two will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and are ticketed; the third is the Armed Services Ball at the National Building Museum, which is by invitation only. Details have not been confirmed.

How to watch

The proceedings will be aired on all major news channels, including Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and NBC News, with special all-day inauguration coverage.

You can also stream the ceremonies online. NBC, CBS, FOX, and ABC will stream the events on their websites; however, you may need to log in to your TV provider to access the coverage.

The White House will be streaming the inauguration on its website, and several news outlets, including C-SPAN, Bloomberg Politics, and the Washington Post, have also partnered with YouTube to stream the events.

What to expect

Expectedly, there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance in inaugurating the next president of the United States, from the wreath-laying ceremony to the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

And while there’s politics in the pageantry, the most important moment of the proceedings will likely come during Trump’s inaugural address.

As it stands, Trump will enter the White House an incredibly unpopular president; his approval ratings have dropped since being elected in November. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 2.9 million votes, and there are almost as many people coming to Washington to protest Trump’s presidency as for the inauguration.

It puts Trump in an interesting position. Will he present himself as the president for all Americans, as he promised on election night, or will he continue to play to his supporters? We already know he hasn’t made too many strides with the former, going after civil rights icon John Lewis and even questioning the validity of approval ratings.

Trump tweeted that he began drafting the speech three weeks ago. He has been receiving some advice and counsel from advisers Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway and campaign speechwriter Stephen Miller, as well as some historians specifically regarding the speech’s length. But incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said the words are fully Trump’s.

Trump told reporters the speech will aim to unite America. After the campaign the country just went through, that would be a good start.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.