A scene from the legendary Passion Play of Oberammergau
A scene from the legendary Passion Play of Oberammergau

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Oberammergau Passion Play

Taking place just once per decade, the next performance of the legendary Oberammergau Passion Play is in 2022 - and you won't want to miss this unique experience. We've rounded up everything you need to know about this iconic event below and you will also find our full collection of tours that include the Passion Play here

The History of the Passion Play

The 2022 Passion Play will be its 42nd performance and it first began back in the year of 1633. The Plague had descended upon the residents of the small village of Oberammergau, and its citizens made a solemn vow that if their lives were spared, they would perform a play that depicted the story of Christ's life, suffering and resurrection in full once every ten years. Amazingly, there were no further deaths as a result of the Plague, so – in 1634 – the Passion Play officially began.

Where is Oberammergau?

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. 

Know Before You Go... How long is the Passion Play?

The Oberammergau Passion Play begins at 2.30pm local time and will finish at 10.30pm. On our Oberammergau tours, dinner will be included during the intermission so there will be time to stretch your legs. It is helpful to note that the Passion Play is performed in German. 

6 Interesting Facts

  • To be considered as a performer in the Passion Play, you must either have been born in the village, married to a local for 10 or more years, or lived there personally for 20 years. No exceptions to these rules are made. 
  • Costumes are made by villagers and no wigs are allowed, meaning that anyone chosen for a role must grow their hair (beards included!) for accuracy and authenticity on stage. A "Hair and Beard Decree" comes into play ahead of each performance – for the 2020 Passion Play it came into force on March 6th – which stops participating villagers getting haircuts.
  • Over 2,000 locals take part every 10 years, but there are only around 124 speaking roles up for grabs. 
  • Some of the scenes included in the forthcoming 2020 production will be accompanied by an impressive 64 vocalists and there will be 55 instrumentalists sitting in the orchestra pit.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Experience the Passion Play with Andante Travels

We have a selection of tours available that offer the chance to experience the once-per-decade Passion Play, just search "Oberammergau" on our site now to see what kind of tour suits you best.