Oberammergau: A Fairytale Ending


From fairytale towns and romantic roads, to enchanting castles and the enduring appeal of the Passion Play; here’s why you need to visit the Bavarian Alps and catch the centuries-old play that comes once a decade.

by Tina Richardson

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have visited the region of Germany known as Bavaria, then you know that the area has a beautiful tradition of painting murals on the facades of houses. It is here, nestled high up in the Bavarian Alps, that you can find the whimsical fairytale town called Oberammergau – a town with a very special story. 

The story begins in 1633 and it’s not pretty. The 30 Years War is in full swing and the town of Oberammergau is in a bad way, with the Bubonic Plague running rampant and casualties mounting. The citizens of Oberammergau make a vow to God that they will put on a performance depicting Jesus’ own suffering, if they are spared…and not just once, but every 10 years; in gratitude for their salvation. Legend has it that thereafter no more residents of the town died from the plague…and that is the origin of the world-famous Passion Play, a yearly tradition that has endured for centuries.

The year 2020 will mark the 42nd season of the Passion Play. The theatre has improved much since its first performance, which was once held in the cemetery where casualties from the Bubonic Plague were buried. But while the historic theatre can today hold 4,700 spectators, the original essence of the Passion Play remains untouched. The actors, directors, musicians and all other supporting members of the Passion Play are citizens of Oberammergau; in a way, still honouring the pledge of their ancestors.

I always say “travel changes you,” in the sense that we never come home exactly the same as we left.  I believe that nowhere is that truer than when seeing the Passion Play. This is a bucket list must-do, a once in a lifetime chance to be a part of history. More than 2,000 people take part in this play each year and auditions start two to three years before the actual event. It’s truly extraordinary and it will take your breath away.

So will the beautiful town. You’ll be captivated by tales of hardship, flood, and re-building from the capital of Berlin all the way to Oberammergau. You can also visit sites important to history such as “Checkpoint Charlie,” the best known crossing point at the Berlin Wall that once divided East and West Berlin during the Cold War; Hamburg, the birthplace of marzipan; Hamelin, the famed birthplace of the legend of the Pied Piper; as well as castles straight out of classic fairytales, like Rapunzal’s Castle, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and – the most photographed castle of all – Neuchwanstein Castle, which was the inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle.

Tickets for the Passion Play in 2020 and accommodation in Germany and Bavaria always book up years in advance. CAA Travel is holding Group Space on this much-sought after adventure. Our space will be in September 2020 and feature the Romantic Roads and Fairytale Castles of the region, as well as the Passion Play. These spots are going to sell out fast though, so don’t delay in reserving your space on this experience of a lifetime. Have questions about the Passion Play, Oberammergau or Bavaria? Reach out to CAA’s dedicated team of Groups Specialists by phone at 1-855-402-4636 or by email at: 4neo@caaneo.on.ca.