Every 10 years in a small German village, an amazing event takes place. Travel to Oberammergau to experience some of the most amazing and popular events in tourism.
Oberammergau is home to the Passion Play. This Play originated in 1633 when the villagers promised to perform the play every tenth year. The Passion Play depicts the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. In 2020, the Play will be held from May 16th to October 4th & will be the 42nd time.
Quietly quaint Oberammergau occupies a wide valley surrounded by the dark forests and snow-dusted peaks of the Ammergauer Alps. The centre is packed with traditional painted houses, woodcarving shops and awestruck tourists who come here to learn about the town’s world-famous Passion Play. It’s also a great budget base for hikes and cross-country skiing trips into easily accessible Alpine backcountry. This is why tourists travel to Oberammergau and it is becoming a hot tourism spot.
Almost any travel agency can provide information on trips to Oberammergau and make all the arrangements necessary to attend the play. Gary Wheaton Travel, in Wheaton, suggests choosing a tour that has Oberammergau as part of its itinerary. Buying a ticket for the play alone can cost over $220, according to one travel agency. There are a number of trips from which to choose from religious-themed pilgrimages to general tours, with various price points.
Jeni Chaffer, President of Journeys Travel, Inc. of Bourbonnais, Illinois, agrees that making Oberammergau’s Passion Play part of a tour is sensible. She will be leading a tour this year but cautions that arrangements for trips that include Oberammergau are selling out fast.
“Now people are booking two to three years in advance because the play only happens every 10 years,” Chaffer says. It’s no longer just for those seeking a pilgrimage of faith. “People from all walks of life and backgrounds attend.”
An unusual aspect of the trip is it’s such a moving experience. “People form a bond and keep in touch,” she says. “I feel that any tour that can connect with yourself and others, where you have a spiritual moment, is a pilgrimage. I believe this is an experience that should not be limited by your denomination or faith. It is a moving experience for all ages.”
Traditional pilgrimage tours are available and still in demand. Regina Tours, based in New York, is a Catholic travel agency that highlights sightseeing trips in providing a deeper “knowledge and appreciation of the Catholic heritage in countries throughout the world.” A chaplain priest and a tour representative from Regina Pilgrimages accompanies each group. Mass is said daily on these tours.
The village today
Oberammergau is a small village in Bavaria. Upon entering, the frescoes on some of the buildings are striking. The Alps surrounding Oberammergau give visitors a sense of timelessness that enhances the open-air performance of the Passion Play.
The village is well-known for its wood carving and master carvers. Some of the shops remind people of chalets. In the shops, look for hand-carved mementoes. Popular items include handcrafted figurines, nativity scenes and Christmas ornaments. They will remind you of the experience of seeing the Passion Play, but the play itself will be the lasting memory.
Jeni was recently interviewed for the Chicago Tribune about an upcoming trip to Oberammergau. This play sells out but Journeys does have some spots available on both land and river tours.
Start planning your trip with Journeys Travel today!