Joe Biden’s inauguration will bring us some much needed glamour

Katie Strick
·7-min read
 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

He’s (finally) made it.

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th US President on Wednesday and the party has already started - a star-studded pre-inauguration concert, We The People, kicked off (virtually) last night.

Fall Out Boy, James Taylor, Carole King and will.i.am were among the A-listers who performed at Sunday’s event, and that’s just a taster of what’s to come. Though festivities have been scaled back for safety reasons due to the pandemic and recent riots at the Capitol, that hasn’t stopped the stars coming out.

The Obamas are among those set to attend Biden and Harris’ swearing-in ceremony and celebrities from John Legend to J. Lo are expected to take part in a glitzy live TV special to replace the usual inauguration ball on Wednesday night.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the Democratic National ConventionAFP via Getty Images
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the Democratic National ConventionAFP via Getty Images

From Justin Timberlake’s exclusive performance to the (unexpected) designers Biden and Harris will be wearing, here’s all the glamour to expect from the big day.

When is the inauguration and what will happen?

This week’s the week: after a tumultuous few weeks in Washington, Joe Biden will finally be sworn in as US President on Wednesday.

Events begin the night before, on Tuesday, with a lighting ceremony around Washington’s Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in remembrance of people in the United States who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

Inauguration proceedings are then expected to kick off at 11am (4pm in the UK) on Wednesday, with Biden sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on the Capitol's West Front sometime before noon. Biden will then give his inaugural address and conduct a review of military troops.

Senator Kamala Harris speaks to protestors rallying against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill after allegations of sexual assault emerge against him.Getty
Senator Kamala Harris speaks to protestors rallying against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill after allegations of sexual assault emerge against him.Getty

Biden and Harris, along with their spouses, will also lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

There will then be a virtual parade across the country featuring music, poets and dancers ''paying homage to America's heroes on the front lines of the pandemic", expected to take place at around 2-3pm (7-8pm in the UK). After this, there will be a special TV show called Celebrating America will replace the usual inauguration ball.

Biden is expected to formally move into the White House later in the day.

Who will attend?

Outgoing president Donald Trump will not attend - a decision Biden has called ''one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on.''

By choosing not to attend, Trump joins a small but select group: only presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson have sat out their successor's inauguration.

AP
AP

Although Trump’s whereabouts on the night are currently unknown, The Guardian recently reported that his official plane will fly to Scotland just before Biden’s inauguration. Prestwick airport, near Trump’s Turnberry golf course resort, has been told to expect a US military Boeing 757 that has occasionally been used by Trump, on Tuesday this week.

Former president Jimmy Carter will also not attend - it will be the first inauguration the 96-year-old has missed - but he and his wife have sent their “best wishes”.

Unlike his leader, outgoing Vice President Mike Pence will attend tomorrow’s ceremony, and according to Biden he is very welcome.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Among others in attendance will be George W. Bush and his wife Laura, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Is it open to the public?

Tickets are not available to the public due to health concerns. As a response to riots at the Capitol, it was announced that the entire Mall will be closed on inauguration day. Only authorized individuals will be allowed to attend the ceremony, according to NBC.

This is the second time the event has been closed to the public. Andrew Johnson, the 17th US President, was sworn in after Lincoln's death and as John Wilkes Booth was being pursued. According to The New York Times, travel out of Washington was restricted at the time.

Who will perform?

The event is be closed to the public but that hasn’t stopped the stars coming out. According to reports, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez are among A-listers expected to give virtual performances from their homes on Wednesday night. Gaga will sing the national anthem, while Lopez is expected to give a separate musical performance.

Unsurprisingly, the announcement has upped the hype. “@LadyGaga Make National Anthem Great Again," wrote one fan on Twitter, while another wrote: “So Joe has Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez performing on Wednesday. The orange idiot had Lee Greenwood and Toby Keith. Guess he lost that one as well!!”

Lady Gaga takes to the stage in a typically revealing number
Lady Gaga takes to the stage in a typically revealing number

The event will also feature speeches from Father Leo O’Donovan, who will read the invocation; black firefighter Andrea Hall from Georgia, who will say the Pledge of Allegiance; first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, who will give a poetry reading; and Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman, who will give the Benediction. The performance will make Gorman the youngest inaugural poet in history.

After the ceremony, the glamour will continue. Megastar actor Tom Hanks, among the first Hollywood stars to fall ill with Covid back in March, will host a televised special show called Celebrating America - a virtual replacement for the inaugural ball that normally takes place as part of the inauguration.

The 90-minute programme will feature musicians Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons, and will be broadcast live by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and MSNBC.

AP
AP

The New York Times announced last week that Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Foo Fighters, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will also take part in the prime-time TV special.

Timberlake will perform a song he has written for the occasion, called ‘Better Days’, which he says he hopes will reflect “a better, more equal future”.

Who’s wearing what?

Just because there’ll be fewer eyes on Biden and Harris (in person), that hasn’t stopped designers going bold for this year’s inauguration attire.

Tyler Mitchell
Tyler Mitchell

According to WWD, Biden has broken with tradition and called on Ralph Lauren to dress him during the ceremony - 41 of the past 45 presidents (including Trump) were dressed by Brooks Brothers, so it marks a step-change. The suit is expected to be dark, with the president-elect usually preferring navy.

Harris’ outfit remains a mystery. The incumbent Vice President is expected to wear a tailored pantsuit during the ceremony, with the designer currently unknown (though it is unlikely she will be wearing her signature Converse sneakers as sported in Vogue).

According to Harper’s Bazaar, Harris’ likely designers include Christopher John Rogers, Altuzarra, Pyer Moss, Prabal Gurung, Carly Cushnie, Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera, Peter Do, Gabriela Hearst, and Fear of God.

Like her husband, First Lady Jill Biden is also expected to be fairly bold with her outfit. She is likely to wear an outfit from an eco-label, a female designer or one involved with the Black Lives Matter movement.

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

Should she choose to opt for a eco label, then Uruguayan designer Gabriela Hearst, who’s forest green gown Biden re-wore to the first presidential debate, is a strong contender. Alternatively she may opt for Oscar de la Renta, the label she wore for her first appearance as First Lady-to be whose creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia are immigrants to the US.

How to watch

Inauguration day will be streamed live across America and will be available to watch in the UK, too. Just like election night, the BBC will be live throughout, hosting build-up and event coverage live from Washington from 4pm. Sky and other UK news channels will also covering the event.

For American coverage, footage from US news networks CNN and Fox News will be available on their social media channels and Amazon Prime.

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