WASHINGTON – The inauguration is fast approaching, and D.C. is transforming to accommodate the estimated 1 million attendees and protesters expected to descend on the city this week. The new president will be sworn in at noon on Friday and there are countless events and protests scheduled in D.C. around that main attraction.
Here’s everything you need to know to attend and be prepared for the weekend.
1) How do I get tickets to attend the inauguration ceremony?
The Joint Congress Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which coordinates the swearing-in ceremony, distributed 250,000 tickets to members of Congress. To obtain tickets, contact the office of your senator or member of Congress. Tickets are free. Many representatives have lottery systems to dole out tickets, and if there is high demand then you may have already missed the deadline. Tickets have been appearing on sale on Craigslist and other online ticket resale companies, though inauguration organizers say tickets are intended to be free.
2) Is there assigned seating for ticket holders?
Somewhat. Tickets are color-coded and your ticket will be one of six colors: Yellow, blue, red, green, orange or silver. Each ticket requires you to enter the Capitol grounds through a specific access point by a Metro station. Yellow ticket holders will enter around the Union Station Metro station; green ticket holders will enter around the Capitol South Metro station; orange and silver ticket holders will enter around the Federal Center SW Metro; and blue and red ticket holders will enter around the Judiciary Square Metro station.
3) Do I need a ticket to attend?
You will need a ticket for access to a ticketed area, which are generally the areas closest to the U.S. Capitol. But if you don’t have a ticket, the area on the Mall west of Fourth Street NW will be open to the public without tickets. There will likely be large TVs set up so you can see the swearing-in ceremony.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee has some reserved, ticketed viewing areas for the parade along Pennsylvania Avenue NW, though the public can also stand in unticketed areas along Pennsylvania Avenue NW to see the parade.
4) Will there be security?
Oh, yes. Lots. There will be multiple security checkpoints on the Capitol grounds around the Mall and the parade route on Inauguration Day. Downtown D.C. will transform into a security fortress, with 28,000 security officials over 100 square blocks. The security checkpoints, which everyone within the inauguration and parade perimeter will be required to go through, consist of metal detectors and bag checks. There are a number of prohibited items, including bags over a certain size (18-by-13-by-7 inches max), explosives, balloons and selfie sticks. See a full list of prohibited items here.
5) What time should I get there?
Security gates open at 6 a.m. and typically have long lines. Opening remarks for the swearing-in ceremony begin at 11:30 a.m., and the ceremony itself begins at noon. From there, the new president, Donald Trump, will have lunch in the Capitol. After that, the parade will commence.
6) What is the best way to get to downtown D.C. on Inauguration Day?
There will be numerous road closures in downtown D.C. and limited parking, so driving will be extremely difficult and is not recommended. Many of these street closures will last through much of the weekend. On Inauguration Day, Metro will open at 4 a.m. and close at midnight. Trains will run rush-hour service from the opening until 9 p.m., which means peak fares will apply for 17 hours. Five Metro stations will be closed because of security concerns: Archives, Federal Triangle, Smithsonian, Mount Vernon Square and Pentagon. Additional station closures are possible, Metro said.
7) What information is available about the inaugural balls?
There are three official nighttime balls, two at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and the Armed Services Ball at the National Building Museum. The new president and vice president and their wives will make appearances at all of these balls. Tickets to the two balls at the Convention Center cost $50 a piece, and the President Inaugural Committee says it will release a limited number to the public. People needed to have already inquired about the tickets to attend. The Armed Services Ball is by invitation-only, and tickets are free.
There are also a number of unofficial balls, which are typically held in hotel ballrooms and are often sponsored by state societies, groups that rep their home-state pride in Washington. Tickets prices of these vary widely.
8) I am attending the Women’s March on Washington? What logistics do I need to know for that?
The Women’s March on Washington is the day after the inauguration and is expected to attract upward of 200,000 people. The rally begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW and people will start marching west around 1:15 p.m. The march is a public event and open to anyone. The march’s organizers have secured permits with the city and have coordinated security with the relevant law enforcement agencies. They have also hired a private security firm.
All bags and backpacks are subject to search at the Women’s March. Organizers says backpacks are not permitted unless they are clear and no larger than 17-by-12-by-6 inches, and purses and totes should be no larger than 8-by-6-by 4 inches.
9) What are the other events happening around inauguration weekend?
There are countless pro-Trump, anti-Trump and apolitical concerts, events and conferences happening across the city inauguration weekend. We’ve been keeping a rundown of some of them here.
10) What protests and demonstrations will be happening around inauguration?
After the bitter election, there are many more protesters than usual expected at this inauguration. There will be marijuana protests, antiwar protests and numerous anti-Trump protests. At least one pro-Trump group, Bikers For Trump, has secured permits to demonstrate on Inauguration Day. There are also a number of liberal-oriented groups planning to use this weekend to hold conferences and organize long-term against the Trump administration. Police have said they are aware of the numerous protests throughout the weekend and will work to ensure that people can exercise their First Amendment rights safely.