River cruisers looking to sail in 2020 will be interested to know they could have the chance to experience a once-in-a-decade event – the Oberammergau Passion Play.
What is the Oberammergau Passion Play?
The history of the play began in 1633 when the people of Oberammergau – a town in the Bavarian Alps of Germany – pledged to act out the life, death and suffering of Jesus Christ once every ten years.
The first play took place at Whitsun in 1634 and 2020 will see the 42nd instalment of the very same play. The performance is five hours long, with more than 2,000 participants taking part to bring this story to life once more.
The play is set on the open-air stage of the Passion Play Theatre and involves 50% of the town’s population to relive the story of the Passion of Jesus – from his arrival in Jerusalem to his crucifixion, death and resurrection.
The play runs from May – October and serves as a great attraction for the region, supporting a local expression: ‘Die Passion zahlt’ (The Passion pays for it). The play is estimated to bring 450,000 visitors to the town for its 2020 installation.
Where is Oberammergau?
Oberammergau is a pretty Bavarian town located in southern Germany, close to the border of Austria. Though the play is a huge part of the town’s popularity, this is only available to witness once every ten years. So what is there to do for the other nine?
There is plenty to see and do in Oberammergau, with outdoor pursuits including hiking and skiing. Nestled in the Bavarian Alps offers the perfect surroundings for outdoor adventurers with numerous bike and hiking trails. During the spring and summer months, the town’s mascot mountain, Kofel, offers nature trails which lead to the summit and offers stunning views of the charming scenery and dramatic alps.
Within the town itself, there is a quaint, charming old-town feel. Buildings are covered in traditional fresco paintings and wood carvings, named Lüftlmalerei after a painter who resided in the town between 1748-1792. The paintings are ornate and often feature images depicting the story of Christ.
If you’re a fan of architecture, a walk around the town is a must as nearly every building is decorated in this style making it feel like your walking in a real-life fairy tale!
Which cruise lines sail to Oberammergau?
Most river cruise lines are aware of the popularity of the Passion Play, so a few have even launched specific itineraries to take passengers there which are available to book now.
River cruise lines offering these itineraries include Avalon Waterways, CroisiEurope, Emerald Waterways, Scenic, Tauck and Viking River Cruises. AmaWaterways isn’t hosting any itineraries specifically, but the Educational Travel Services is chartering AmaCerto for a voyage purely to see the Passion Play.
Avalon Waterways offer s 12-day Danube Dreams itinerary sailing between May and September 2020, visiting Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Melk, Linz and Passau. The sailing also includes admission to the Passion Play.
CroisiEurope features a Danube itinerary comprising a six-day Danube river cruise from Passau to Budapest and two nights in Oberammergau with admission to the Passion Play included. This cruise is also available in reverse.
Emerald Waterways includes the Passion Play experience as an add-on for four departure dates in 2020: May 23, June 20, September 4 and September 12. The addition includes a one-night stay in Munich and a one-night stay in Oberammergau, as well as admission to the play and a transfer to embark the ship in Nuremberg. This costs $995 per person, with a single supplement for those travelling alone.
Saga River Cruises
Saga offers a selection of sailings to see the Passion Play, starting with a seven-day cruise through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany.
After this, disembark in Regensburg and transfer to Oberammergau where you will take your seat at this once-in-a-lifetime show.
Scenic River Cruises
There are five departures to pick from with Scenic River Cruises between May and September 2020, all of which include visits to the Oberammergau Passion Play. Itineraries include the new Alpine Highlights and Oberammergau from Vienna to Zurich and the Bavarian Highlights and Oberammergau itinerary from Munich to Vienna. These will also link up to one of four river cruise itineraries including the 8-day Gems of the Danube and the 15-day Jewels of Europe.
Tauck River Cruises
Tauck features the Passion Play on three of its 2020 river cruise itineraries, including the Romantic Rhine, Blue Danube and the new Danube Reflections.
Viking River Cruises
There is a dedicated 10-day itinerary between May and October 2020 which sails along the Danube River between Munich and Budapest. Ports include Regensburg, Passau, Krems and Vienna – with plenty of these itineraries already sold out.
Book your 2020 river cruise
If seeing this once-in-a-decade play is on your bucket list, we suggest booking as soon as possible to secure your place on-board.
If you’re not keen on watching the Passion Play, but would love to set sail for 2020, browse our latest river cruises for 2020 to see what’s on offer.
Call our Cruise Concierge team on 0800 197 0854 for expert advice and award-winning service with your booking.