It may seem a little early to book for a holiday in 2010 when you’re still finalising your travel plans for 2009, but the famous Passion Play at Oberammergau in Germany takes place only once every 10 years, and the limited places are open for bookings now. Nestled in a high Alpine valley in Bavaria, Oberammergau provides a breathtaking setting and the town itself is famous for its wood-carvers and the traditional painted houses, as well as the Passion play.
The Passion Play was first performed in 1634 after the villagers made a vow that if the village was delivered from the bubonic plague they would perform the play about the Passion of Christ. 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, who by tradition must be born in Oberammergau take part in the play. Once the leading actors have been announced on Ash Wednesday 2009 a ‘hair and beard decree’ comes into effect where all players are called upon to grow long hair and beards for the occasion.
If you visit the passion play between mid May and early October, you will only stay in the town for a couple of days, as places are so limited, so tours are normally combined with a visit to other areas such as Heidelberg, Innsbruck, Salzburg or Lake Garda. In the nine years when the Passion Play isn’t being held, there’s still plenty to see with the Museum of Oberammergau, nearby Linderhof castle and woodcarving studios as well as hiking and wellness activities in the beautiful Alpine scenery.
If you’d like to visit Oberammergau during the time of the passion plays, then contact a travel company that specialises in religious pilgrimages. The tours are expensive but for the spiritually inclined, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.