What is the Oberammergau Passion Play?

What is the Oberammergau Passion Play?

With Joe Walsh Tours now offering 5 tour dates for the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play, you may be asking what all the fuss is about. Read on below to find out…

Oberammergau is a village located in the German province of Bavaria. Every 10 years, the entire village perform the Passion Play, depicting Christ’s final days. The first Oberammergau Passion Play was performed in 1634, as a result of a vow made by the village that if God spared them from the bubonic plague, that they would perform a passion play every 10 years. After this vow was made, not another inhabitant of the town died from the plague. The play was also performed in 1934 (the 300th year anniversary) and 1984 (the 350th year anniversary). The year 2020 marks the 42nd time the story will be presented in Oberammergau.

Behind the Scenes

The Passion Play involves over 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, who are all residents of the village. The play takes place outdoors, with the sky and mountains as the backdrop for the spectacular pageant, which is world-renowned for its music and costumes. The play itself consists of spoken dramatic text, musical and choral accompaniment and Living Tableaus. The Living Tableaus are scenes from the Old Testament depicted for the audience by motionless actors and accompanied by verbal description. These scenes are the basis for the relationship between the Old and New Testament. The remainder of the performance is a dramatic presentation showing the Passion of Christ.

The Theatre

The very first Passion Play performance was held over the graves of the plague victims, and this location was used until 1820. After 1820, a stage was built at the site of the present-day Passion Play Theatre, and reconstructions began. By 1930, an open-air stage was constructed by Georg Johann Lang and Raimund Lang. The original seat of simple rows of benches were replaced by theatre seating and offered a seating capacity of 5,200. In 1999, a $15 million dollar renovation took place, upgrading the facility to include wheelchair access and new fire prevention measures. The newly renovated theatre, with its 4,720 covered seats, now offers a world-wide audience maximum comfort and safety.

Useful Information

  • The Passion Play operates for 5 months from May through October.
  • The performances take place every day except for Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • The play starts at 2:30 pm and ends at 10:30 pm every day. It is only one play each day with an intermission of 3 hours for dinner. 
  • The play runs for approximately five or five and a half hours. A meal is served during the intermission of the play.
  • First performance of the Passion Play is May 16th, 2020
  • The closing of the last performance of the 42nd Annual Passion Play is October 4th, 2020

To see our departures dates for the 42nd Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 please see here or if you would like to know more please don’t hesitate to contact our team via email here or by phone on 01 241 0800.

Book your place to Oberammergau now


Posted 01/08/2019