Oberammergau Passion Play

The Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in a meadow in the stunning village of Oberammergau, in Bavaria, Germany, in 1634; and has been taking place every 10 years ever since.

The play has its origins in a vow made by Oberammergau villagers in the 17th century when the bubonic plague was sweeping the Bavaria region: they promised to perform a Passion Play every ten years if God spared their village from the plague; and so the tradition of the play, depicting the life and death of Jesus was born.

2000 performers including actors, singers, musicians and technicians take part in the production of the Oberammergau Passion Play, all of them village residents. In order to take part, performers must be born in the village or be residents for at least 20 years.

Thousands of people from all over Europe and the world, travel to Oberammergau to witness its Passion Play, a unique example of vernacular theatre that takes place in a magnificent setting, with the mountains and meadows of Bavaria as a wonderful backdrop.

The play is now performed in years starting a new decade, as well as in 1934 to celebrate the 300th anniversary and 1984 which was the play’s 350th anniversary. The 1940 performance was cancelled due to the onset of the Second World War in 1939. The next Oberammergau Passion Play was due to take place in 2020 but due to the COVID19 pandemic, Oberammergau 2020 has been postponed and it will now take place in May 2022.

At Joe Walsh Tours we are thrilled to offer fantastic tours to witness this unique piece of vernacular theatre in Germany.

For additional details and travel advice or information contact our Pilgrimages travel experts.


Interesting Facts About the Oberammergau Passion Play:

  • Over 2,000 villagers are involved in the Passion Play, including singers, actors, musicians and technical support.
  • Only people born in Oberammergau or who have lived there for at least 20 years are allowed to take part in the play.
  • There are 124 speaking roles, a 65-member orchestra, 48 person chorus and hundreds of people involved in the production, including stagehands, seamstresses, firemen, auditorium attendants and more.
  • Men grow their hair and beards to make them look authentic to the time.
  • All costumes used for the play are handmade.
  • While the play is performed in German, people from all over the world attend the performances, including those that are not of religious backgrounds; intrigued by the way the town comes together to perform this play.
  • Each performance lasts approximately five hours with an interval of three hours midway.
  • There is seating for 4500 spectators per show. It is anticipated that over 480,000 will attend the next play.

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