What to Know About the Unprecedented, Virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention

Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and more are slated to appear during the four-day event, which begins Monday

Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

The Democratic National Convention is playing it safe this time around.

Amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the gathering took shape unlike any in the past: It is now centered around virtual programming each night from, 9-11 ET, rather than in-person events. The convention will be airing on TV and online.

The DNC shifted its plans out of health concerns as the pandemic continues, though less publicly than opponent President Donald Trump has done for the Republican National Convention. (Trump now says he plans to deliver his RNC remarks from the White House, after months of pushing for an in-person convention in both North Carolina and Florida.)

The DNC will not see any party delegates or speakers traveling to Milwaukee, in a reversal of what was planned as recently as earlier this month.

The upheaval reflects the unprecedented ways the pandemic's risks have reshaped public life: Even the major political conventions, which have in recent decades become large-scale media events meant to kick off the final months of a presidential campaign, are not immune.

As former Vice President Joe Biden formally accepts his party's nomination on Thursday, he will also get to set the stage for the final two months leading up to the Nov. 3 election. Sen. Kamala Harris, his newly announced running mate, will also address voters and amp up the campaign on Wednesday night.

"From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first," said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a press release. "We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives."

Here's what to expect from the upcoming Democratic event, including who you can expect to see and how to tune in.

Kamala and Biden
Sen. Kamala Harris. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Getty Images

When and Where

The DNC is scheduled to take place between Monday and Thursday, before the Republican National Convention kicks off the following week. While the event was planned to take place in Wisconsin, all proceedings will now stream virtually.

The four nights of programming (from 9 to 11 p.m. ET) will include both pre-recorded segments and live broadcasts held from around the country, plus musical performances.

Biden, 77, will formally accept the nomination on Thursday from his home state of Delaware. Harris, 55, will also speak from Delaware.

"This convention will look different than any previous convention in history," Joe Solmonese, CEO of the 2020 DNC, said in a press release. "It will reach more people than ever before, and truly be a convention across America for all Americans, regardless of which party you belong to or who you’ve voted for in previous elections."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

How to watch

Along with traditional TV news outlets, the DNC proceedings will be available to stream live on DemConvention.com. Also check out the DNC's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter presences or search for the 2020 DNC app on Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices. With Alexa-enabled devices, listen or watch along by saying, “Alexa, play the Democratic National Convention.”

RELATED VIDEO: Trump's Ex-Assistant — Ousted After Loose-Lipped Dinner with Reporters — Tells Her White House Story

Who'll be there

Aside from Biden and Harris' speeches, a number of party heavyweights and famous faces will make appearances over the course of the week.

The first evening will see speeches from Sen. Bernie Sanders, former First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, as well as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican. Night two will feature Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former President Bill Clinton and others.

On Wednesday night, vice presidential candidate Harris will take the stage along with former President Barack Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Finally, on Thursday, Biden will speak, as will Sen. Cory Booker and former Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Activists like DeAndra Dycus and stars like John Legend will also appear.

Click here for the full schedule of speakers.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Related Articles