This transition of power will not be like others.
The epidemic makes it different and the personalities of the people involved make it different. The potential for violence after the reality of violence in the Capitol, where the inauguration takes place, also makes it different.
An inauguration is usually celebratory, a country coming together in the peaceful transition of power, but the epidemic means people have been urged to watch it on TV, so no crowds for the big parade. No big parade either.
And America is deeply divided. Mr Trump will not be there. He tweeted: "To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th." Vice President Pence did plan to attend.
If Mr Trump's supporters attend with violent intent, they will be met by heavily militarised National Guard troops.
The practice since 1837 has been for the President-elect, Vice President-elect and their spouses to go to the White House and be escorted from there to the Capitol by the out-going president. This time, Mr Trump is expected to be at his golf course in Florida.
The tone of the ceremony itself will also be very different from other inaugurations: it will be replete with symbolism in its strong representation of young people, black people and people who grew up in poverty before achieving success.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are to be sworn into office on Wednesday in Washington.
The ceremony is expected to start mid morning there (about 3.30am on Thursday morning in eastern Australia. When you wake on Thursday, it should be over).
The new Vice President will be sworn in by a judge in the Supreme Court (Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina justice on the court. She is the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants).
Half an hour later, the new President will be sworn in by the Chief Justice, John Roberts.
As a devout Catholic, Mr Biden will swear the oath (rather than affirm it). He will repeat after the judge: "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."
This all assumes nobody fluffs their lines.
In 2009, President Obama had to redo the oath a few days later because Chief Justice Roberts got the words wrong on the day itself.
The president was supposed to repeat: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States," but the judge misplaced a word, saying: "I will execute the office of president of the United States faithfully."
Mr Biden will make his inauguration speech which will be a laying out of his priorities and hopes. The defeat of the pandemic is expected to be prominent and also the idea of "healing the nation".
There will be a speech by Father Leo J. O'Donovan, a priest who conducted the mass at the funeral of Mr Biden's son Beau who died of brain cancer in 2015.
The speech is usually called an "invocation", a speech with much more of a spiritual, human and perhaps occasionally humorous dimension.
Lady Gaga will lead the singing of the national anthem.
The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and to the republic will be read by Andrea Hall. This, too, represents deep symbolism. She was the first black woman to be promoted to fire captain in the South Fulton Fire Rescue Department in Georgia, a state which was once a bastion of slavery but which returned Joe Biden in the presidential election.
She told CNN that she felt as though she was "representing the nation, and making sure that they understand the passion from which I speak those words about being indivisible as a nation because that's what it's going to take to move our country forward."
More symbolism follows with a reading by the 22-year-old black poet Amanda Gorman. Jennifer Lopez will sing.
There will be a blessing from the Dr Silvester Beaman, the pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
After the ceremony
The new President and Vice President will "pass and review" a military detachment. (The commander-in-chief will have access to the "nuclear football", a briefcase with the electronics to launch a nuclear strike).
They then go to the Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They will be accompanied by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and their wives.
Instead of the usual parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, President Biden will get a military escort for a short distance so he is seen to arrive at his new home, with the full panoply of the US Army Band.
Down to business
Now the hard part.