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Guide to the 2017 Presidential Inauguration

Inauguration Crowd with Washington Monument - Washington, DC

We’ve compiled all the dos and don’ts for the U.S. Presidential Inauguration to make it easy for you to enjoy the celebration.

There are few events that you can plan on attending that are guaranteed to go down in history. The President’s swearing-in ceremony is one of them. Come to Washington, DC and witness something for the ages as the nation swears in the 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017. Soak up the atmosphere throughout the city and celebrate this special day that’s all about American tradition and celebration.

Where to Take in the Action

Inauguration of President Barack H. Obama, 44th president of the United States, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol - January 20, 2009 - Washington, DC

The official proceedings of Inauguration Day commence around noon on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol with the vice president-elect and president-elect taking the Oaths of Office, followed by the inaugural address. Security screening gates will open at 6 a.m., followed by music at approximately 9:30 a.m. and opening remarks at 11:30 a.m.

You must have a ticket to attend the swearing-in-ceremony. Tickets are free, but they’re in high demand and must be applied for through your local representative or senator's office. Giant video screens and audio systems will also stream the proceedings to the thousands of spectators on the National Mall.

Don’t worry if you don’t get tickets to the official ceremony - you can still catch a glimpse of the new commander in chief. Position yourself along Pennsylvania Avenue to cheer on the presidential procession and inaugural parade as it makes its way from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. A limited number of bleacher seats can be reserved through the Presidential Inauguration Committee, though viewing from the sidewalk is free and unreserved. The parade will begin at approximately 3 p.m. on Inauguration Day.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee now also features a full rundown of inauguration activities, including details of the swearing-in ceremony and the parade.

Toast to the New President at an Inaugural Ball

James Taylor Performing at 2009 Inaugural Ball - Washington, DC

Revelers may want to don a tuxedo or evening dress and dance the night away, and they’ll have plenty of options. Inauguration Day brings glitz and glamour to DC with the big names in politics, business and entertainment descending on the city. Many of the top caterers are booked a year in advance and some luxury stores have pop-ups in high-end hotels for any last minute wardrobe changes.

There are official and unofficial balls, the difference being that the newly named president and vice president attend many of the official balls. Members of the public can apply for tickets to these via the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket for one of the many unofficial balls directly from the host venues or organizations.

Security and Such

Presidential inaugurations are a festive experience, though as with any event of this size, being prepared will make it smoother and more enjoyable. Be sure to check advisories ahead of time and consider the following:

It is cold in January in Washington, DC. Dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes.

Thousands of portable toilets are brought into National Mall and in front of Metro Stations for the event. Bring your own water and snacks or purchase some from hot dogs and pretzel stands. There are also numerous restaurants in the area – check out this piece for our recommendations.

If you’re a ticket holder to any event you will have to pass through security screening. Make sure you bring photo ID and check the list of prohibited items ahead of time. Due to the forecast of rain on Inauguration Day, "totes" style umbrellas that collapse will be allowed on the parade route and on the National Mall. Tall, non-collapsible umbrellas will not be allowed along the parade route or on the Mall.

Accommodation is at an absolute premium in Washington, DC over Inauguration Day. Room rates rise and many hotels require several nights’ minimum stay. For more information, check out available hotel packages in the nation's capital.

Everything You Need to Know About Inauguration Day in Washington, DC

Driving is not recommended. Parking will be limited and there will be road closures to accommodate the crowds and parade so visitors are recommended to walk, bike and use the Metro. The Metro will be operating with extended hours on Inauguration Day, opening at 4 a.m. with near rush-hour service levels on all lines until 9 p.m. There is no track work planned for inauguration weekend.

Please note the following Metro station closures on Inauguration Day, which are subject to change: Smithsonian (Orange, Silver and Blue lines), Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter (Green and Yellow lines), Pentagon (Blue and Yellow lines), Federal Triangle (Orange, Silver and Blue lines) and Mt Vernon Sq 7th St-Convention Center (Green and Yellow lines).

If you plan on riding the Metro into DC for the inauguration festivities, find out which stations to use and the best walking routes from these stations to the National Mall here. For the best ways to navigate the city on foot during the festivities, check out this walking map.

If you are using a ride sharing app such as Uber or Lyft, there will be a geofence around the security perimeter, meaning the apps will not work inside it. Attendees using the services will have to leave the perimeter to get picked up.

Beginning in mid-December and while supplies last, Metro will offer a limited edition SmarTrip® card commemorating the inauguration. The $10 card (a 30% savings) will come pre-loaded with a one-day pass valid for unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus rides on Inauguration Day; the card is valid before and after Jan. 20, 2017 by adding value online at wmata.com or at any Metrorail station.

Now that you know the ins and outs of the presidential inauguration, check out unique presidential experiences, find out how DC has gotten cooler since the last inauguration and much more here.