©Passion Play Oberammergau 2022
©Passion Play Oberammergau 2022

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Oberammergau Passion Play

Taking place just once every decade, the Oberammergau Passion Play is worthy of being described as simply legendary. The 2020 event marks the 42nd performance and it first began back in 1633. The Great Plague had descended upon the residents of the small village of Oberammergau, and citizens made a solemn vow that if their lives were spared, they would perform a play depicting the story of Christ's life, suffering and resurrection once every ten years. Amazingly, there were no further deaths as a result of the Plague, so – a year later in 1634 – the Passion Play officially began. 

The next time you can witness it is 2020 and we are running three departures. Join us for the bucket-list worthy Oberammergau Passion Play in May or August (either departing 10th or 12th) and experience it for yourself.

How long is the Passion Play?

Where is Oberammergau?

The Oberammergau Passion Play begins at 2.30pm local time and will finish at 10.30pm. There will be a significant break for dinner at 5pm, so you will have a chance to stretch your legs! On a Brightwater Holidays Oberammergau trip, there will be a three hour break for dinner, which we will enjoy back at our comfortable hotel. It's helpful to note that the entire Passion Play is performed in its traditional German language.

A small village known also for its wood-carvings, Oberammergau is located in beautiful Bavaria – in Germany. It is situated among the stunning Ammergau Alps and this village provides a fantastic base to do some exploring. On our Brightwater Oberammergau holidays, you can visit Salzburg, tour the Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck and even discover the dramatic Tratzberg Castle. History and culture await here, and there's time to explore it.

Facts about the Oberammergau Passion Play

  1. To take part in the legendary Passion Play, you must either have been born in the village of Oberammergau, married to a local for 10 years or have lived there for 20 years. No exceptions are made.

  2. All costumes are made by villagers and no wigs are allowed, meaning that people have to grow their hair for accuracy and authenticity, according to the “Hair & Beard Decree”. For the 2020 performance, this came into force on March 6th and will see participants growing their beards and facial hair according to the roles they are assigned.

  3. Over 2,000 citizens take part in the performance, despite the fact that there are only around 124 speaking roles.

  4. In the upcoming performance, some scenes will be accompanied by an incredible 64 vocalists, whereas normally there are just 4 vocal soloists and 44 choristers. There will be 55 instrumentalists sitting in the orchestra pit.

  5. For the 2020 performance, Jesus will be played by both Frederik Mayet (who played the same role in the 2010 production) and Rochus Rückel. Ruckel has been confirmed as the second-youngest actor to play Jesus in the almost 400-year-old history of the Passion Play.

  6. The first-ever performance, in 1634, took place at the cemetery next to the parish church, on the graves of the plague victims. Later, in 1830, the performance space relocated to the northern edge of the village, where it still remains today (pictured above, centre).

Experience the Passion Play with Brightwater

Departs: 13th May, 10th August or 12th August 2020
Price: 6 days from $2,845pp
Single supplement: $420
Included: 5 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 5 dinners

The main event of this 6-day trip is, of course, the iconic Oberammergau Passion Play. The itineraries of our three departures all feature it and the performance itself begins promptly at 2.30pm local time, ending at around 10.30pm and including a three-hour break for dinner.

Other holiday highlights

Enjoy an included excursion aboard the historic Zillertal Steam Railway. This nostalgic narrow gauge railway will take you from Jenback to Mayrhofen, a 32-kilometre route that opened first in 1902, and the charms of journeying through the glorious Zillertal Valley aboard a steam-powered locomotive is sure to enchant any traveller.

Take a themed excursion to the Austrian city of Salzburg. For the music lovers, choose Mozart. If you’re more of a movie aficionado, opt for our tour that centres around the iconic Rodgers & Hammerstein film, ‘The Sound of Music’. Both trips include visits to the Hohensalzburg Fortress and the stunning Salzburg Cathedral.

A trip to the Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck, where a guided walking tour of the beautiful Old Town awaits. Here, we can stroll down the famous Maria-Theresien-Strasse and gaze upon the magnificent Golden Roof. This landmark gets its name from the 2,657 fire-gilded tiles that adorn its roof and was built by Emperor Maximilian.

Visit Tratzberg Castle, a Renaissance gem among Austria’s castles. Here, you’ll see a splendid courtyard, exquisite parlours and interior walls decorated with images from the 1500s depicting life-sized animals and hunters. Original tools are on display within the castle’s rooms and portraits of Emperor Maximilian’s family can also be seen.