Building Painted with Passion Play mural in Oberammergau, Germany

Book Your Vacation to See the Oberammergau Passion Play Now

Travelers Already Planning to Attend Once-in-a-Decade Event

Opportunities to attend a once-in-a-decade event don’t happen often. The chance will come around again in 2020, when travelers can witness an amazing and historic live depiction of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when Germany’s Oberammergau Passion Play is once again performed. Although the event is nearly 2 years away, there is already significant interest in travel to Oberammergau to witness the landmark performance.


The performances originated in 1633, when citizens of the Bavarian village of Oberammergau determined to re-enact Christ’s story once per decade to ward off plague. The Passion Play performances have lasted nearly 500 years and maintain a popular following. More than 2,000 actors, musicians and singers -- all Oberammergau natives --participate in the performances.

Traditional painted houses in Oberammergau, Germany.
Oberammergau: This German village is home to the Passion Play every 10 years, and home to dozens of traditionally painted houses.   

Since 1930, the event has been consistently attracting hundreds of thousands visitors. And now you can plan your unforgettable destination wedding, honeymoon or vacation around this epic event. Travelers need to plan early and move quickly to ensure they have their reservations are confirmed early to attend this bucket-list experience.

The History 

In 1633, residents of Oberammergau (located in Germany’s Bavaria region) were ravaged by the bubonic plague, rising from one death in 1000 people per year (October 1632) to 20 people in the month of March 1633. The locals vowed that if God spared them from the plague that they would produce a play every 10 years depicting the life and death of Jesus. The adult death rate slowly subsided in July 1633. And the villagers believed they had been spared and they kept their vow to produce the first Passion Play in 1633. 

Christ carrying cross in Passion Play.
Passion Play: Christ carrying the cross in an epic performance of Passion Play, which includes more than 2,000 actors, singers and musicians. 

The Performances

You’re in luck if you’re interested in attending the next Passion Play performance. A total of 103 shows are scheduled from May 16 - Oct 4, 2020. The 5-hour performances begin in the afternoon with Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and proceed to depict the story through the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. The performances include a 3-hour break and end in the evening with the Resurrection. 

The Oberammergau Passion Play is widely considered among the world's most successful amateur dramatic performances. More than 450,000 people are expected to visit Oberammergau for these unique, religious performances in 2020. Consult a Vacation travel agent to help you plan your once-in-a-lifetime trip to this small German village.

Stage for Passion Play
The Stage: Audience entranced by the actors during an elaborate Passion Play performance in Oberammergau, Germany.

The Passion Play Experience 

The Oberammergau Passion Play has been performed on open-air stages since the very first production in 1634. The epic play was written by Othmar Weis, J. A. Daisenberger, Otto Huber, Christian Stuckl, Rochus Dedler, Eugen Papst, Marcus Zwink and Ingrid H. Shafer along with residents of the village.

The present-day text is a composite of 4 distinct manuscripts dating from the 15th and 16th centuries that dramatize Jesus' passion, including the brief final chapter of his life that covers his visit to Jerusalem and his execution by crucifixion. The music is attributed to Dedler and the play is considered the earliest continuous surviving staged Christian drama performances.

Recreation of the Last Supper during the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany
Last Supper Act during the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany 

The Oberammergau Passion Play features spoken dramatic text and uses musical and choral accompaniment. For example, scenes depicting Christ’s passion are intertwined with Old Testament scenes with motionless actors accompanied by vocal descriptions.

These scenes emphasize ties between the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. King Ahasuerus rejecting Vashti in favor of Esther and Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery in Egypt are just a few Old Testament acts guests will see.

In all, the play encompasses 16 acts that include the Last Supper, portrayed in a scene resembling the legendary Da Vinci painting, and the Way of the Cross, which depicts Christ’s encounter with his weeping mother Mary as he bears the cross to Golgotha.

Christ with Mary his mother during a performance of the Passion Play
Mary consoles Christ in a performance of the Passion Play

The next scene is one of Jesus on Calvary, where he is mocked by soldiers and utters his last words. The final scene depicts the Resurrection and final tableau, showing Jesus resplendent in white with his apostles, angels, the Virgin Mary and Moses.

While the Oberammergau Passion Play is conceived as a faithful re-enactment of the final events of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, each year significant changes are made to the production.

In fact, Oberammergau officials say the changes with each performance offer a new emphasis on various elements of the story that sometimes mirror contemporary times and reflect the current political climate.

The Crucifixion act during the Passion Play
Actors recreate the Crucifixion during a Passion Play performance.  

Include These Luxury Vacation Ideas

Many tickets to attend the Oberammergau Passion Play are sold as part of packages that combine attendance at the event with accommodations at an upscale hotel. An experienced travel agent can work closely with travelers to customize the right package to suit their needs. 

Several luxury river cruise lines are selling Oberammergau sailings in 2020 that include entrance to the epic performance, combined with visits to cities including Munich and Vienna.


Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable trip to see the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with a travel agent, who can customize a dream itinerary you deserve.

Danube River in Budapest, Hungary
Luxury River Cruise: Consider talking a river cruise along the Danube River with stops in popular destinations, such as Budapest, Hungary. Make it part of your Passion Play itinerary!