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Guide to President Obama's Inauguration

One of almost 2 million people who attended President Obama's first inauguration in 2009 Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch

President Barack Obama will be publicly sworn in for his second term in office in front of an estimated one million people.

The main ceremony takes place on the West Front on the Capitol Building in Washington DC and crowds will line the National Mall to watch the occasion.

President Obama was privately sworn in on Sunday because the US Constitution requires the inauguration to take place no later than noon on January 20.

As well as the the president and vice president taking the oath of office, the ceremony will include Beyoncé singing the National Anthem, the Obama's inaugural address and a parade to the White House.

While crowds are expected to be large, they are unlikely to match President Obama's first inauguration in 2009 which attracted a record 1.8 million spectators.

  • See a schedule of events at the bottom of this page.**
  • **
  • Watch the ceremony live on the White House YouTube channel:
The National Mall filled with crowds during the first inauguration of President Obama Credit: REUTERS/Scott Andrews/Pool

An historic occasion

American presidents have been inaugurated on January 20 since 1933 and the Capitol's West Front has been the main site for the occasion since 1981.

The central event is the president-elect taking the oath of office on two bibles: The Lincoln Bible, which was used by the eponymous president at his first inauguration in 1861, and a travelling bible used by Dr Martin Luther King.

The wording of the oath is as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

– oath of office

Vice President Joe Biden will make his public oath on a five-inch thick bible with a Celtic cross on the cover that has been in his family since 1893.

Barack Obama swearing on the Licoln Bible during his 2009 inauguration ceremony in Washington Credit: Reuters

Music

Singers Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor have all been booked to play at the inauguration.

As well as the megastar line-up, student choirs, Church singers and military bands will provide musical accompaniment to the event. They include the Public School 22 Chorus - around 70 primary schoolchildren from Public School 22 in New York's Staten Island.

President Barack Obama dancing as guests and first lady Michelle Obama watch during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in 2009. Credit: Reuters

Official Inaugural Balls

The ceremony is followed by two official inaugural balls: The Commander in Chief's Inaugural Ball at 6pm and the Inaugural Ball at 7pm.

Celebrities expected to attend these event include Alicia Keys, Usher, Katy Perry, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Jamie Foxx and the entire cast of Glee.

Inauguration Glossary

  • Capitol Building - The building where the US Congress meets and the site for presidential inaugurations since 1981.
  • Washington Mall - The park that runs from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. Crowds gather here to watch the inauguration.
  • Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts - Administers the oath of office.
  • Inaugural address - Obama will stand on the Capitol steps to deliver a speech that will serve as both a state of the union report as well as his vision for a second term.
  • Inaugural parade - After the ceremony, Obama will take part in a national processional along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
  • 'Faith in America's Future' - the phrase given to the theme of Obama's seconf inauguration.

Schedule

  • 1:45pm - Service at St. John's Episcopal Church
  • 2:30-3:45pm - Performances by Public School 22 Chorus, Lee University Choir and United States Marine Band in bleachers on Capitol Hill.
  • 3:45pm - Parties depart White House for Capitol building
  • 4:18pm - Biden and Obama families announced and seated
  • 4:45pm - Vice President Biden sworn in
  • 4:50pm - James Taylor sings America the Beautiful
  • 4:55pm - President Obama sworn in
  • 5pm - Inaugural Address by the president
  • 5:34pm - Beyonce sings the National Anthem
  • 8:30pm - Obama takes part in procession along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House from where he will review the parade.
  • 10:30pm - Parade ends

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