Washington, DC is the only place to be this January with America's landmark inauguration of its first black president.

Previously held in New York City and Philadelphia, Washington, DC has hosted presidential inaugurations since Thomas Jefferson was sworn in in 1801.

Every inauguration is filled with parades, speeches and ceremony but, this year, the celebrations are set to be bigger than ever - with celebrities including Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus all signed up to take part.

Hotels are already booked up and there has been an unprecedented demand for tickets - the city is expecting to see up to 1 million people turn out for the event. George W Bush had around 300,000 people present at each of his inaugurations.

What happens

The swearing-in begins with a religious service that is followed by a meeting with the outgoing president. After the vice president is sworn in, the new president takes his oath:

"I do solemnly swear 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."

Once Barack Obama is officially Commander in Chief, events continue in the form of lunch, the parade and several balls.

What's on

The free We Are One concert opens the inaugural celebrations on Sunday 18 January at the Lincoln Memorial. Artists including U2, Shakira and Mary J Blige will be performing.

On Tuesday 20 January, the Inaugural Parade starts off on Pennsylvania Avenue after the Swearing-In Ceremony and Inaugural Luncheon. The evening sees a series of Inaugural Balls, one of which will be hosted by President Barack Obama, another by Vice President Joseph Biden.

There will be a National Prayer Service in Washington National Cathedral the day after Inauguration Day.

For a full schedule of events, visit www.pic2009.org.

Don't forget to...

Take with you
Small snacks
Mobile phones

Leave behind
Thermos flasks
Backpacks and large bags
Tripods and camera bags

For a full list of prohibited items, visit http://inaugural.senate.gov/2009/keytopics.cfm#prohibited.

What to see

Aside from the action at Capitol Hill, the USA's capital has lots to see and do, though it will be busy.

Explore the city's elite area - the elegant neighbourhood of Georgetown. Smart townhouses, cobblestone streets and riverside walks await.

Monuments around the city include the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Adams Morgan
One of DC's most colourful neighbourhoods, visitors will find an eclectic mix of international restaurants, sidewalk cafes, ethnic stores and late-night entertainment in Adams Morgan.

Creek Park
Escape the crowds in DC's favoured recreation ground. The creek passes through the heart of the park, which has bicycle, bridle and jogging paths.

The White House
See where the man himself will be living post-20 January with a visit to America's most famous building, the White House. Only part of the building is open to visitors and tickets must be obtained from embassies in advance.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.