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How to Attend Inauguration

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We are unaffiliated with the Inauguration and can offer no more assistance than the advice compiled below. Please do not contact us to arrange tickets to attend. We do not offer guide service or tours on Inauguration Day.

Check out our DC Tourism Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Washington DC attractions

The Presidential Inauguration is nearly upon and the city is already preparing for the inaugural events. From parades to balls to the actual inauguration, use this as your guide to how to attend inauguration, get tickets to an inaugural ball, and welcome the new president into the White House.

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Location: The Swearing In Ceremony takes place on the west front of the U.S. Capitol Building but can be viewed from along the National Mall. The Parade will then continue down Pennsylvania Ave NW ending at the White House.

Weather: January is the coldest month of the year in D.C. and most of the events take place outside. Dress warmly!

Security: Regardless of the events, you'll often have to go through security in D.C. but more so during inauguration.

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How to Attend Inauguration 

How to get tickets to attend Inauguration Swearing In Ceremony

First step in attending the swearing in ceremony is to be prepared for disappointment as there are tens of thousands of requests for not nearly as many tickets. Are you involved in your community? Earn any awards from your hometown? Anything that will make you stand out from the literal crowd of people requesting tickets will help.

  • Requests for inauguration tickets must go through one’s member of Congress. You can contact your representative or senator. Each office handles the procedure differently - either a wait list or a lottery.

How much are inauguration tickets? It is free to attend the inauguration swearing in ceremony itself though tickets are required. Beware of scammers trying to sell you tickets in advance. Tickets are only given out in person at your congressperson's office about a week prior to the inauguration so do not try to buy tickets online.

Can I attend the inauguration without tickets? Of  course! This is a public event as we welcome our new President. Tickets are required to watch from the platform but there are viewing stations all along the National Mall with large screen televisions and speakers. You can always expect a crowd and usually various entrances to the separate areas on the National Mall (usually by separated by block).

How to attend the Inaugural Parade?  The Inaugural Parade has been a part of the celebrations since George Washington first took office. After the swearing In ceremony and inaugual luncheon, the new President and Vice President will travel down Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and White House. They'll remain on the viewing platform at the White House to watch the rest of the parade.

  • Ticketed Viewing:  A limited number of tickets for bleachers along the parade route will be available from the Presidential Inauguration Committee. In 2013, the tickets were available online for $44 per person with a limit of 6 tickets per order. Tickets usually go on sale the week prior.
  • Watching the Inaugural Parade without tickets: Public entrances are set along the route where guests can watch the parade without tickets. Public entrances open at 630am for the afternoon parade and are closed as the area becomes filled.

Best place to watch the Inaugural Parade? If you don't want to stand out in the cold, you can watch a live stream of the Inaugural Parade. However, if you want to be there in person there are several great spots:

The parade route starts at the East Front of the Capitol Building, travels down Constitutition Ave and then down Pennsylvania Ave, up 17th Street and back on Pennsylvania Ave (see map).

Keep these tips in mind when considering where to watch the Inaugural Parade:

  • DON'T try to watch the Parade Route by going to the White House. Most of that area is restricted to special bleacher seating.
  • DON'T plan on driving. The blocks surrounding the parade route are closed to vehicular traffic.
  • DON'T plan on using the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro Station. It is closed on Inauguration Day.

2017 Inaugural Parade Route

Where will there be security checkpoints?

Furthermore, in order to access the parade route, you must go through security. There are many security checkpoints that will remain open from 630am until that section is filled. They are located as f

  • 2nd Street NW and C Street NW
  • John Marshall Park at C Street NW
  • Indiana Avenue NW between 6th Street NW and 7th Street NW
  • 7th Street NW and D Street NW
  • 10th Street NW and E Street NW
  • 12th Street NW and E Street NW
  • 13th Street NW and E Street NW
  • 14th Street NW and E Street NW
  • 12th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW
  • 10th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW
  • 7th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW
  • Constitution Avenue NW between 6th Street NW and 7th Street NW

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How to get Tickets to Inaugural Ball

There are two types of Inaugural Balls: official and unofficial. Official Inaugural Balls will see attendance by the President and/or Vice President where as unofficial balls will likely not.

How to get tickets to the Official Inaugural Ball? Official Inaugural Ball 2017 information has not yet been released. If you're interested in attending, or just know more about them, we suggest signing up for the newsletter update from Inaugural Tickets.

Can I attend the Inaugural Ball? When the information is released, there is usually one Official Inaugural Ball open to the public. Last election tickets were sold at $60 a person online.

How to attend an Inaugural Ball? If you just want to dress up and celebrate there are dozens of unofficial balls that take place around the city. Some are black tie affairs, others low key and some encourage you to dress as your favorite politician. There are a variety of styles to suit every person.

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Where to Stay for Inauguration

Hotels: Plan early because hotel rooms quickly sell out in Washington D.C. during inauguration. Keep in mind, many hotels will require you to have a 4 night minimum for inauguration weekend.

+ The Willard - 1401 Pennsylvania Ave Nw: Washington, DC 20004

  • Pros: Very luxurious, excellent location, and ideal for history lovers.
  • Cons: Very expensive and rooms likely to book out quickly for inauguration.
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Book directly with The Willard
  • Compare prices at

+ Holiday Inn Washington Capitol - 550 C St SW, Washington, DC 20024

  • Pros: Very convenient location and more reasonable prices.
  • Cons: Near noisy railway.
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars
  • Book directly with Holiday Inn.
  • Compare deals with

+ Holiday Inn Central / White House - 1501 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005

  • Pros: Excellent customer service, very central location, and more reasonable prices.
  • Cons: Relatively basic accommodation; not a 'destination hotel'
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars
  • BOOK directly with Holiday Inn Central / White House
  • OR with to compare deals.

+ Hamilton Crowne Plaza - 1001 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

  • Pros: Very good location near White House; excellent bar and restaurant with live music downstairs.
  • Cons: Difficult parking; some guests comment that the hotel seems dated.
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars
  • BOOK directly with Hamilton Crowne Plaza
  • OR with to compare deals.

+ Kimpton Hotel Palomar2121 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20037

  • Pros: Recently renovated; located in hip neighborhood near White House.
  • Cons: Some guests warn of extra charges that are added upon check-out.
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Kimpton Hotel Palomar
  • OR with to compare deals.

Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria220 South Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Staybridge Suites Greenbelt10500 Eastgate Dr, Lanham, MD 20706

  • Pros: Modern and clean amenities; prices much more reasonable than hotels in central DC.
  • Cons: Far from downtown area -- expect nearly an hour commute during inauguration.
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Staybridge Suites Greenbelt
  • OR with to compare deals.

AirBnB: this is a great option where you'll find additional rooming options come on the market just for Inauguration as residents rent out spare bedrooms or entire house for the events. The closer the property is to the U.S. Capitol and/or White House, the more expensive it will be. Have a look at neighborhoods on the Blue/Silver/Orange lines if you want a direct connection to the Inauguration.

INSIDER TIP: If hotels in DC are out of your price range or unavailable, consider staying at one outside of DC! There are many great and affordable hotels outside the city that are easily accessible by Metro, bus and cab. In fact, DC is rather small so in some cases you can still walk to your hotel from DC, even if you’re staying in Virgina! You’ll find many chain hotels just across the Potomac River in Virginia and in Maryland:

  • On the Orange Line: Rosslyn, Courthouse, New Carrollton
  • On the Red Line: Bethesda, Silver Spring
  • On the Silver Line: Tysons Corner, Spring Hill
  • On the Blue Line: Rosslyn, Pentagon City, Crystal City, Old Town Alexandria.

You will find many large chain hotels in the above areas and most are within walking distance or offer a free shuttle to a Metro. But, expert tip, the DC Metro System, WMATA, is currently undergoing renovations, meaning some stations or lines are closed or severely delayed. Make sure you research if there will be closures during your stay!

Check out for a comprehensive listing of the best hostels in DC.

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Getting Around DC on Inauguration Day

As a federal holiday, most business and schools will be closed on Inauguration Day. In addition, thousands of people are expected to attend the events.

Where to park on Inauguration Day?

Parking is difficult on an off season day so it will be near impossible around the Inauguration. In addition, there will be numerous road closures around the city. A great option is to park outside the city and take public transportation in.

If you’re driving into DC on Inauguration Day, a smart move would be reserving a parking spot ahead of time. Parking Panda is a popular service in DC that makes finding parking a whole lot easier. They allow you to view which parking garages will be accessible on Inauguration Day and book a guaranteed space near where you’re headed. Pretty simple. It’s also possible that their service could help you save some money on overnight parking as compared to your the rates your hotel might be charging.


Taking public transportation on Inauguration Day?

  • The Metro will open at 4 a.m. and close at 2 a.m.
  • Metro will provide 17 consecutive hours of rush-hour service -- from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m. Peak fares will be in effect during the entire time.
  • Metrobus will operate weekday rush hour service in the morning, followed by an early rush hour in the afternoon. Many routes will operate on detours due to Inaugural events.

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About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: January 5th, 2022
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