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How to watch the inauguration in the UK – time, TV schedule and who's performing for Joe Biden's inauguration

The inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes place today – here's how you can watch it in the UK.

Published: Wednesday, 20th January 2021 at 10:36 am

Today is set to be a momentous date in US political history, with President-Elect Joe Biden being sworn in as the 46th President.


Taking place in Washington D.C. at the Capitol Building, today's ceremony will see Biden deliver his much-anticipated inaugural address, although there'll be a much smaller crowd watching the proceedings than usual due to the pandemic.

While outgoing president Donald Trump won't be attending the inauguration, the likes of Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez are set to perform this afternoon and luckily for us, we'll be able to watch the ceremony from home via live stream.

So here's everything you need to know about Inauguration Day 2021, from how to watch it in the UK to what time the event will kick off, including details about the time difference.

What time is the inauguration today?

The United States presidential inauguration takes place today, with the ceremony beginning at 11.30am ET (4:30pm GMT) at Washington D.C's Capitol Building and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being sworn in at midday (5pm GMT).

While in Washington D.C., the ceremony takes place in the morning at 11:30am, due to the time difference, viewers in the UK can tune in to watch this afternoon from 4:30pm.

Since 1937, presidents have been inaugurated on the 20th January, following the ratification of the Constitution's 20th Amendment.

How to watch Inauguration Day in the UK

BBC One will be holding a two-hour news special at 3.30pm on Inauguration Day, with BBC journalist Katty Kay presenting the coverage.

ITV will be doing the same with Tom Bradby presenting an inauguration special from Washington D.C at 4pm. 

Coverage of the Inauguration proceedings will also be airing on Sky News from 4.30pm and other networks such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

NOW TV customers can also live stream the coverage from their smart televisions, movies or smart stick.

Inauguration Day 2021 schedule

Inauguration Day begins at 11.30am ET (4:30pm GMT) today with a performance of the US national anthem, followed by a traditional invocation, usually delivered by a reverend.

Shortly before noon, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

At 12pm ET (5pm GMT), president-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, after which Biden will deliver his inaugural address.

Biden and Harris will then head to the Capitol's East Front for the Pass in Review – a long-running tradition which sees the new President assess the military troops.

After the Pass in Review, the President and Vice President will travel to Arlington National Cemetery with former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Biden will then receive a military escort from 15th Street to the White House before this evening's itinerary of virtual activities.

Various inaugural balls are usually held to celebrate swearing in the president, however, with the US in the midst of a pandemic, Biden is unlikely to hold a ball for the event – instead, Toy Story's Tom Hanks will host a TV special on Wednesday night.

There is usually a traditional public parade from the Capitol to the White House, however, due to COVID-19, that has been replaced by a virtual parade entitled 'Parade Across America', during which communities across the country pay homage to America's frontline workers.

Who will be performing?

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga Getty

Performing live at Joe Biden's inauguration will be Lady Gaga, who'll be singing the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.

While in the evening, during Tom Hanks' 90-minute television special, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato and Jon Bon Jovi are set to make an appearance.

The Biden-Harris team has even released a playlist for the inauguration, featuring the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Kendrick Lamar, A Tribe Called Quest, Dua Lipa and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Describing the playlist, the president-elect's team said that the track list "represents the diversity of our nation, and our strength and resilience as we look forward to new leadership and a new era in America".

When does President Trump's term officially end?

Outgoing President Donald Trump's term will officially end at midday today – which is when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

Who is attending Joe Biden's inauguration?

In previous years, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies would offer 200,000 tickets for the Capitol-based ceremonies – however, due to the coronavirus, the public are unable to watch the inauguration in-person.

Members of Congress are able to watch the ceremony and can bring just one guest with them.

Despite being invited, President Trump has said that he will not be attending Biden's Inauguration ceremony, breaking 150 years of tradition. Usually, the outgoing president and other former presidents sit behind the new president at the event, symbolising the peaceful transfer of power.

The other former presidents who'll be attending the event are Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.


Check out our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.


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