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Tips for seeing the Oberammergau Passion Play 2022

Tips for seeing the Oberammergau Passion Play

The Oberammergau Passion Play is a once in a lifetime experience, a six hour spectacle of music and drama that recreates the last months and days in the life of Jesus and his passion and death on the cross. The entire cast of hundreds is drawn from the village of Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany and the play takes place only once every ten years with the next occasion of the Oberammergau Passion Play in 2022 (postponed from 2020).

If you’ve researched the many Oberammergau Passion Play reviews, already booked to see visit Oberammergau in 2022, or are hoping to get a last minute place on a tour, you may find some useful tips from my visit in 2010 to the Passion Play Oberammergau when it last took place ten years ago.

Note: The 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play was postponed to 2022 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic – more information on the official website.

The Crucifiction - Oberammergau Passion Play Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

The Crucifiction – Oberammergau Passion Play Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play

History of the Oberammergau Passion Play

The Oberammergau play dates back to 1632 when the Plague was sweeping through Europe and reached the town claiming many lives. The people of Oberammergau gathered to ask God to spare their village and made a vow that they would perform a Passion Play every ten years. From that time there were no further deaths in the village and since then the Passion Play in Germany has been regularly performed at Oberammergau, becoming especially popular for visitors in the last century.

Crucifiction - Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Crucifiction – Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

The Oberammergau Passion Play is an incredible community effort as all the performers are amateurs and in order to take part you must have been born in the town or have lived there for 20 years. In order to nurture the talent for the Passion Play, there is heavy emphasis within the community and education in drama, choirs and orchestras in order to train each generation for the performances of the future.

Listen to my Podcast from this 2010 visit: Oberammergau Passion Play and Altötting in Bavaria

Are you wondering if the Oberammergau Passion Play is in English? Don’t worry, you’ll be provided an English text but the Oberammergau Passion Play language is German. Being Germany everything works like clockwork, and I was impressed that the play organisers seemed to have thought through everything to ensure your enjoyment of the play.

The Way of the Cross - Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

The Way of the Cross – Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

For each speaking part there are two actors and the playing of different parts often runs in families, with actors taking the same parts that their fathers and grandfathers performed before them.

Oberammergau Passion Play tickets – how to book

If you book through a specialist travel company as we did, they will have purchased a package of tickets, meal and accommodation from the play organisers. When booking a package, each of the Oberammergau tickets includes a bed and breakfast stay for 1 or 2 nights in or around Oberammergau, a ticket to see the play performance, lunch and dinner on the day of the play and free shuttle buses to take you to and from the performance.

The Last Supper - Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

The Last Supper – Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

You’ll want to consult a Oberammergau Passion Play seating chart, as there are different grades of package available. The lower priced package will get you a lower grade of theatre seat, meal and modest B & B accommodation, while a higher priced one may get you a seat in the front section of the theatre with higher grade of accommodation in a hotel that may be more centrally located.

Read more from this trip: Painted houses and wood carving at Oberammergau – in Bavaria, Germany

If you are looking to book one of the Oberammergau tours, I would enquire what level of package you will be getting. Since it’s such a unique experience, I would personally prefer to pay more to get the best seats for the Oberammergau Passion Play and to stay in a centrally located accommodation.

Pilate condemns Jesus to death Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Pilate condemns Jesus to death Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

We also discovered that some packages on certain days allow you to stay 2 nights in the villages, while others like ours were only for one night. Given the choice I would definitely stay for 2 nights to be able to look around Oberammergau at a more leisurely place.

If I went to the play again, I might consider trying to book a package directly and then organising my own holiday around it, although you would probably need to book as soon as the tickets are released around one year before the play.

Visiting the Oberammergau Passion Play in 2010

Visiting the Oberammergau Passion Play in 2010

Many of the packages are taken by travel companies, who then build a holiday touring the region around it, but overall the tours do tend to be expensive and you may not have the time for a long trip. It does seem that most overseas visitors book their visit to Oberammergau as part of an organised tour from a specialist travel company.

Enjoy a hassle-free tour to Linderhof Palace, the quaint little town of Oberammergau, home of the Passion Play, and finally the most visited castle in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle, in the heart of the Bavarian Alps

How to get to Oberammergau

Oberammergau is about 3 hours journey time by train or road from Munich, which is an ideal airport to fly into. Many visitors will arrive by coach as part of a tour and our coach was directed into a large car park on the edge of the town. From there our group was appointed an English-speaking local guide to assist us and some of our party were transferred into minibuses for a free transfer to our local accommodation.

The Village of Oberammergau Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

The Village of Oberammergau

This prevented coach congestion in the village of Oberammergau and the guide then stayed on the coach to assist the driver to deliver others of the party who were staying in accommodation outside the village. During the performance there were free shuttle buses available to take everyone in allocated accommodation into the centre of Oberammergau or to the restaurants where they would eat lunch and dinner.

Read more from this trip: An introduction to the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany

The Passion Play Oberammergau theatre and performance

The Oberammergau Passion Play is performed in a large, modern, purpose built theatre that seats 4500 people and there are entrances all along each side to get the audience in and out relatively quickly. The wide stage at one end is open to the elements and there are trees and mountains in view behind the stage set.

The theatre auditorium is covered over for the audience of 4500 people and seats rise on a gentle incline from the stage giving everyone a good, clear view even at the back. However it is a large theatre, so you will be able to see more detail of the performance if you are seated in the front half of the theatre.

Passion Play theatre daytime Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Passion Play theatre daytime Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

The performance is divided into two halves of 2.5 hrs each with a meal in between. In previous years the performance was divided into a morning and afternoon session with lunch in between, but in 2010 the timing changed with the first half starting after lunch at 2.30pm with a 3 hour break for dinner and the second half starting at 8.00pm.

Passion Play Theatre night time Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Passion Play Theatre night time Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Even though it was long, I enjoyed every moment of the Passion Play – it was truly an amazing spectacle. The dialogue in German in interspersed by music and singing from a choir and the orchestra, often with a background of living tableaux with scenes from the Bible, making a colourful picture behind the choir who were dressed in long white robes.

Jesus enters Jerusalem Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Jesus enters Jerusalem Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

The other unique element was created by the crowd scenes involving all ages including children and babes in arms as well as the occasional sheep, donkey, and even a small camel. At times there must have been at least 200 people on stage at one time, all acting their socks off.

What to bring to the Oberammergau Passion Play performance

You may like to bring a tiny pencil torch to read the English language text as it gets dark in the second half of the performance. As the evening becomes chilly in the Alps, even if the day has been warm, you will want to have warm clothing with you as the theatre is covered but open at one end. A small pair of field binoculars is useful if your seat is towards the back of the theatre, although all seats have an unrestricted view and perhaps a small bottle of water to ward off tickly coughs.

Kiss of Judas - Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Kiss of Judas – Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Accommodation in Oberammergau during the Passion Play

Our accommodation was in a local house that provided Bed and Breakfast, in a pleasant residential area and was a short walk to our allocated restaurant and a 15 minute shuttle bus ride into the centre of Oberammergau. For the duration of the play the residents of Oberammergau open their doors and make room for the large influx of extra visitors. Guests are allocated the accommodation by the play organisers depending on the level of package, so it is difficult to determine the specific place you will stay.

The Village of Oberammergau Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

The Village of Oberammergau

If you are in this kind of accommodation you should expect a room that is clean and comfortable, with a warm welcome but not necessarily the latest decor – ours was in shades of 1970s browns and greens. Our group were dispersed in different accommodation and ate in different restaurants and some found that they were staying on outlying villages which meant that they were quite rushed and had very little time to look around the town before the play. Luckily, the arrangements were changed so that we had a couple of hours to look around Oberammergau on the morning after the play.

Explore more of the region on this day-trip to the splendid castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof, lunch in Hohenschwangau, and through the little town of Oberammergau

Hotels in Oberammergau

If you are booking your accommodation independently or visiting outside the period of the Oberammergau Passion Play, here are some hotels in Oberammergau that we recommend, but if none of these suit you, look at other hotels in Oberammergau.

Hotel Maximilian in Oberammergau – A 5 star Alpine design hotel that’s centrally located in the heart of Oberammergau, with a spa and sauna, a traditional Bavarian bar and upscale restaurant.

Hotel Maxmilian in Oberammergau

Hotel Maximilian in Oberammergau

Romantik Hotel Böld in Oberammergau – located by the river Ammer, on the edge of Oberammergau town centre, this 4 star hotel offers contemporary Bavarian decor and scenic views of the Alps.

Romantik Hotel Bold in Oberammergau

Romantik Hotel Bold in Oberammergau

Parkhotel Sonnenhof in Oberammergau – A 55 room 4 star Alpine style hotel with spa and indoor swimming pool, that’s on the edge of Oberammergau, just across the river from the old town.

Parkhotel Sonnenhof in Oberammergau

Parkhotel Sonnenhof in Oberammergau

Is the Oberammergau Passion Play worth it?

I felt the play really did live up to expectations and is well worth making the effort to see the play once in your lifetime. The play is as much about the passion of the people of Oberammergau to remain true to their vow and the enormous effort and thought that had clearly gone into putting on the play was a credit to the village and made the play a memorable occasion for us visiting Oberammergau.

Way of the Cross - Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 Photos: Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Way of the Cross – Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

More articles about Oberammergau and the Passion Play

Painted houses and wood carving at Oberammergau – in Bavaria, Germany
An introduction to the Oberammergau Passion Play
Podcast – The Oberammergau Passion Play – listen to the live sounds

More articles about our visit to Altötting from this trip to Bavaria

A pilgrimage to see the Black Madonna at Altötting in Germany
Hotels in Altötting – Review of Hotel Zur Post
Bavarian Lake swimming in the Badesee near Altötting
Delicious Bavarian Food – Wiener Schnitzel and cherries

Oberammergau Passion Play – Visitor Resources

To plan your visit to Oberammergau check out the official Oberammergau Passion Play Passionsspiele website and the Oberammergau tourism website

You can also get ideas for visiting Germany on the Germany Travel official tourism website and on the Bavaria tourism website.

Our 5 day tour to the Oberammergau Passion Play and other places in the region was booked with Pax Travel who organise holidays to many other pilgrimage destinations.

Looking for a guide to the Oberammergau passion play? We recommend The Pilgrim’s Guide to Oberammergau. If you need a guidebook for visiting Germany we recommend the DK Eyewitness Germany Travel Guide or the Lonely Planet Germany Travel Guide.

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Tips for seeing the Oberammergau passion play

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

Photo Credits: Passion Play photos are copyright of the Oberammergau Passion Play and other photos by Heather Cowper

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35 Comments

  • Reply
    Mark H
    July 16, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Seeing the Passion Play (in an earlier decade) is one of my abiding travel memories. I hope many of your readers get a chance and follow your tips. The town’s setting amongst the Alps, the wonderful historic story behind the play, the adoption of virtually every person in the town as part of the effort to run the play all contribute to a wonderful experience in a theatre where the audeince is under cover but the stage is open to the elements. I wrote a similar review of the town and play at http://www.travel-wonders.com/2009/08/timeless-promise-passion-play.html

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    July 17, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Your extensive information on visiting the Oberammergau Passion Play should be required reading for anyone planning a visit. Great jog!

  • Reply
    Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels
    July 18, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Heather, this is a great list of tips. I was totally impressed – right down to water. Well done!

  • Reply
    Bavarian food from Germany | Heather on her travels
    July 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    […] Germany is your kind of place. I visited this part of Germany recently on a short trip to see the Oberammergau Passion Play and here’s a taste of what you might expect when you eat out in a typical Gasthaus or Biergarten. […]

  • Reply
    Review of Hotel Zur Post at Altötting | Heather on her travels
    July 24, 2010 at 4:16 am

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  • Reply
    Stella Pierides
    July 28, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Just back from seeing the Passion Play in Oberammergau. It was the first time for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I fully agree with you about the performers, as well as the village community working and singing their socks off. It was also quite amazing that the animals (almost a zoo: sheep, goats, horses, camel, lama, doves) remained composed throughout their appearance on the stage.
    Your tips were great. I would go for a better category seat too, though where I sat, near the back, the view was unrestricted and good. I would also try to change the weather if I could! It thundered and poured the whole day I was there.
    I was particularly interested to see the portrayal of Judas in this year’s (or should I say decade’s?) performance. A complex psychological portrait, strong and accomplished. Nothing stereotypical about it. Well done!
    All in all, I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the 2020 staging of the play!

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    July 28, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    @ Stella So pleased you enjoyed the play as much as I did – I hadn’t really thought about the portrayal of Judas but now you mention it, it was a man who judged things wrongly and never meant it to end with Jesus’s death then regretted bitterly what he’d done – could happen to any of us.

  • Reply
    Painted houses and wood carving at Oberammergau – in Bavaria, Germany | Heather on her travels
    August 2, 2010 at 9:58 am

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  • Reply
    Pilgrimage and the Black Madonna at Altötting | Heather on her travels
    August 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

    […] our visit to Bavaria to see the Oberammergau Passion Play we spent a couple of nights at the pilgrimage town of Altötting, an hour or so’s drive east […]

  • Reply
    Oberammergau Passion Play and Altötting in Bavaria - Podcast | Heather on her travels
    August 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    […] Podcast 12 I talk about visiting the Oberammergau Passion Play in Bavaria, Germany and also visiting the pilgrimage town of Altötting that’s known for the […]

  • Reply
    Donna
    September 8, 2010 at 3:28 am

    Hi,
    Loved your blog and also loved the Passion Play. I went in June and it was fantastic.
    I would not recommend trying to book a package directly – we tried (one of us speaks fluent German) and despite phone calls and emails – this was a year before – it was hopeless – so we baled out and went on a tour with Albatross which was fabulous.
    Also a word of caution about ordering books etc online from the official shop – they sent me the wrong thing – DVD instead of the pictorial book and refuse to do anything about it until I sent it back to Germany at my own considerable expense. Even offered to buy book again if they sent it!
    No answer to many emails – bit contrary to the Christian spirit of the village, play and locals.
    I would go again in 2020.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    September 8, 2010 at 7:35 am

    @ Donna
    So glad you enjoyed the play and also reading about it on the blog. Also thanks for your tips on booking a package directly although if you’re like me and prefer to organise your own travel arrangements it’s always worth a try, and you can fall back on a package if it doesn’t work out. How annoying that you had such problems when you ordered online – obviously better to try and buy things when you’re actually at Oberammergau.

  • Reply
    Oberammergau Passion Play 2010 | Heather on her travels
    September 11, 2010 at 5:33 am

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  • Reply
    preetika chahuhan
    October 20, 2016 at 11:51 am

    I was seen Oberammergau Passion Play before some years ago in Europe and i cant explain it in words, its wonderful and speechless. you also mentioned really great for Oberammergau Passion Play that the Oberammergau Passion Play is an incredible community effort.

  • Reply
    Lynn
    February 11, 2017 at 3:45 am

    I want to plan my own trip around the passion play so how do you go about just getting tickets to the play and accommodations?

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      February 11, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      @Lynn Because of the high demand, the easiest way to see the play is as part of a tour package – there are quite a few aavailble as the time of the next play nears so then I would compare different packages (the main difference is the accommodation) and book early. They don’t make it very easy to book tickets directly but I believe that it is possible and I would check the Oberammergau website for details. I doubt that you will be able to book accommodation in or near Oberammergau independently as it will be mainly sold as part of the tour packages, however you could book accommodation that’s in the region and then hire a car.

  • Reply
    Henry AT fotoeins
    June 26, 2018 at 12:51 am

    I recently returned from a month in Austria and southern Germany. At long last I visited Oberammergau, and i’m interested in returning in 2020. That’s how I came here to read your post about the play and some tips about visiting town and attending the play. Thanks, Heather.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      June 27, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      @Henry So pleased you found the article – I hope I may also get a chance to go back in 2020

  • Reply
    Felix (tourism.de)
    February 4, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Hey Heather, I just love Oberammergau and all the similar smaller towns in Bavaria. Just a great place for hiking in beautiful nature and I find the food there is sooo good 🙂
    If you want, you can check out my review of Oberammergau over at https://www.tourism.de/oberammergau/

    Maybe we can stay in touch and if you need something, I would love to help you out. Best wishes, Felix

  • Reply
    Andrea
    March 5, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Heather, I enjoyed reading your great post here! Our family is interested in seeing the Passion Play in 2020. My question is about children…. did you see many children at the play? Summer of 2020 my girls would be 11 and 8. They are great travelers and highly flexible, not typical kids for their age. I think it would be an incredible experience and just wondered if you remember seeing any children around and what their response might have been. Thanks in advance for any info!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 8, 2019 at 10:45 am

      @Andrea – I can’t remember seeing many kids there but it was obviously a while ago. If your kids are experienced travellers I think it would be a good experience – my concern would be the length of the performance and also the auditorium is quite large so I would do everything you can to get seats closer to the front or equip yourself with binos.

  • Reply
    Jody
    March 9, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Hi,
    We are hoping to get to Passion play Sept 2020.
    Is there a company you recommend to go with for tickets and 1-2 might accommodations.
    Thank you for your information and suggestions. Always great to get advice from people that have “been there, done that.” ?
    Jody

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 15, 2019 at 2:31 pm

      @Jody I don’t have a particular company as it would depend on your budget and location and many companies offer packages. However I could compare closely what they offer in terms of 1. level of accommodation as it can range from very simple b&b to local inns 2. the seats you get as the auditorium is huge and it would be ideal to pay more for seats nearer the front

    • Reply
      Vreni
      March 28, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      Hi Jody,

      It would be interesting to know whether it worked out for you getting tickets and accommodation.
      We got our tickets yesterday via the theater -homepage https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/tickets/tickets-arrangements and found a reasonable priced hotel inFarchant, which is located about 20min distance from Oberammergau; https://www.hotel-foehrenhof.com/
      There are also lovely holiday apartments such as ” Ferienwohnung Bergnah ” in Bad Kohlgrub ( which is listed on .
      (Booking.com ). Wishing you all the best and a pleasant journey next year.

  • Reply
    Georg
    March 23, 2019 at 12:03 am

    can you recommend a travel agency?

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 27, 2019 at 11:40 am

      @Georg I don’t have a specific agency to recommend however there will be many tour companies that specialise in religious and pilgrimage tourism. I would look for one that is well established and also look closely at the level of accommodation in Oberammergau which can vary greatly and also at the type of seats for the performance they can offer, since it is a very big theatre so seats near the front would be a big benefit.

  • Reply
    Joan Hill
    April 25, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    I have booked to go to Oberammergau in 2020. I would like to know in advance about access to seating, eg steepness of steps, grab rails? I have short legs and my balance isn’ Very good. Thank you

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      April 30, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      @Joan It was 10 years ago so struggling to remember but as I remember the auditorium is quite large with steps sloping up – can’t remember if there were rails though and of course things may have changed – you could check the Oberammergau website for more info or ask any tour company you use to check as I’m sure there will be accessible arrangements made for those who require them.

  • Reply
    Rob Goodbun
    September 9, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Good Afternoon,
    We are going to the Passion Play next summer (2020). We are staying in Innsbruck. Do you know if there is a charter transportation service to Oberammergau from Innsbruck. We will have a car but I would rather not drive if I don’t have to.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      September 13, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      @Rob Unfortunately I don’t know about that but there may be information on the Oberammergau website.

  • Reply
    Caitlin Nicol
    September 30, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Heather

    Thanks for the great article.

    I’m looking at going to the Passion Play next year. My questions are, who did you book with? Here in New Zealand a lot of the tour companies have sold out of seats and those that haven’t are too long or too expensive.

    Would someone not particularly religious still find it worthwhile? I’m also not very familiar with the bible.

    Also, have you ever been to the other passion play in Sordevolo in Italy or heard any feedback about this?

    Thank you!

    Caitlin Nicol

  • Reply
    Caitlin Nicol
    September 30, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Heather

    Thanks for the great article!

    I’m looking at going to the Passion Play next September.

    Who did you book through? I was looking at going through the official website, if I can avoid any potential hurdles. I also don’t want to be staying at the edge of town as I’ll be using public transport.

    Would someone not particularly religious still find it worthwhile?

    Have you been to the Sordevolo Passion Play in Italy or have had any feedback about it? I’m thinking about going to this also.

    Thank you!

    Caitlin Nicol

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      September 30, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      @Caitlin It was 10 years ago so not quite sure but I think I booked through a UK tour operator that specialises in religious travel. There are many different tour companies who take an allocation of seats and then build tour packages around it. You should bear in mind that due to high demand you only get 1 day and night in Oberammergau and the rest of the package will be visiting other things in the region. I think it’s a pretty special event and that you’d find it a great experience even if not especially religious. I’m afraid I don’t have any knowledge of the Sordevolo Passion Play. I think the best bet is to do an online search, especially any tour companies that specialise in religious travel. It is also possible to book directly yourself for the play on their website although possibly more convenient and fun to do it as a group trip. Mostly the tickets come as a package with accommodation included as all the hotels get booked up and the local people open all their spare rooms to offer b&b accommodation.

  • Reply
    Vlucht volgen
    December 18, 2019 at 9:53 am

    I enjoyed reading your great post here! it would be an incredible experience and just wondered if you remember seeing any children around and what their response might have been. Thanks in advance for any info!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      December 18, 2019 at 10:31 am

      @Vlucht Volgen . I’m racking my brains as it was 10 years ago and can’t really remember – I think the audience will be predominantly older – it’s a very long performance, your seats might be quite far from the stage and also emotionally demanding in places such as the crucifixion scenes. I think it would be suitable for children who are 12+ or teens that you think would have a genuine interest but probably not younger ones.

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