This event takes place once every ten years in Oberammergau, an unassuming Bavarian village located in the heart of the Alps and to celebrate the return of the Oberammergau Passion Play for the 42nd time, our Travel Partners, Great Rail Journeys have introduced three new tours incorporating attendance at the Passion Play with classic rail travel, excursions and hotel accommodation for an unforgettable experience.
The Oberammergau Passion Play is regarded as the most important passion play in the world and portrays the suffering, death & resurrection of Christ, covering the final period of Jesus’s life from his visit to Jerusalem to his execution by crucifixion. It is a polished production presenting both the tragedy of death and the promise of life but still remaining a powerful act of worship symbolising an unwavering commitment to an ancestral vow.
The history of the Passion Play began in the 17th century when during the Thirty Years War, Oberammergau, along with the rest of the Continent, was afflicted by bubonic plague resulting in many deaths. The local government vowed that they would perform the ‘Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ’ every ten years if God was to spare them any further affliction. The death rate slowed to a halt and in the following year,1634, the Play was performed for the first time in gratitude for the divine intervention that had spared them from death.
The atmosphere and performance here is renowned as one of the best in the world and whilst it is performed in German, English followalong booklets are supplied to help with the translation. The stage is open air but with covered seating offering the comfort of underfloor heating and with the Alps as the backdrop it provides a unique experience in stunning surroundings.
The Passion Play takes place between May 16th to October 4th 2020 and there are 102 Performances which take place in the Oberammergau Theatre, these are in two parts lasting 2.5 hours each with a 3 hour interval. Each performance will have an average of 4,400 spectators and around 450,000 visitors are expected with over half being international guests.
The production consists of a cast of over 2,000 amateur actors, musicians, and stage technicians. all residents of the village. It takes a full two years of painstaking preparation for the event with the townsfolk designing and making costumes, building the stage sets and then learning and directing scenes. Also to the extent that for a full year prior to the performance all men taking part have to stop shaving!
The Passion Play 2020 promises to deliver another breathtaking performance and delivers what can only be described as a ‘see it to believe it’ experience; the only kind of performance art of its kind, seats sell out years in advance and each decade is eagerly anticipated the world over.
Whilst you will visit Oberammergau to witness this spectacular event you will not be disappointed with its location as this beautiful town is surrounded by majestic mountains and picturesque meadows. You will find houses decorated with large frescoes – often depicting biblical scenes or saints – dating back centuries so history abounds. The town is also well known for its hand-crafted woodcarvings so you will find dozens of woodcarver shops in which to browse or buy.
If you would like to extend your travel then our Travel Partners, Great Rail Journeys have made it easy for you and have arranged three new tours adding on some other destinations and allowing you to enjoy some new experiences.
Oberammergau & Lake Garda 2020
This 8 day tour from our Travel Partner, Great Rail Journeys, combines the impressive splendour of Italy with the immense theatrical spectacle that is the German village of Oberammergau’s Passion Play, resulting in a tour that is one of natural scenery, thespian spectacle and European charm.
Day 1 – 2: London to Desenzano
We meet with our Tour Manager today at London St Pancras International, where we board the Eurostar service to Paris where we stay overnight. On Day 2, we continue on to Lake Garda via Milan, where we arrive in Desenzano to check into our hotel.Your evening is at leisure in Desenzano, before our dinner later tonight. With a host of colourful buildings lining the winding streets, Desenzano is pretty and well-suited to the relaxed atmosphere which permeates the villages around Lake Garda. At the heart of the town is a small harbour full of dainty sailing boats and looked over by a series of restaurants and bars.
Day 3: Verona
Today we pay a visit to romantic Verona to discover its many attractions. A city of noble ruins, gorgeous monuments and fascinating history, Verona has much to offer.
Having spanned the many centuries and having played a key part in many of the most important historical eras of Italy, this extraordinary city has preserved examples of architecture from each period.
The centre of the city is rife with monuments, period buildings and buzzing plazas, dated from the beginning of the Roman civilisation, through the Renaissance and into the 20th century. The city itself is known for its association with the notion of romance, with William Shakespeare famously using Verona as the backdrop for many of his plays including Two Gentlmen of Verona and the heart-wrenching Romeo and Juliet. We explore many of the attractions on a guided tour as we visit the stunning Roman arena, the impressive city gates and Juliet’s balcony.
The arena is particularly noteworthy. Remarkably well-preserved, this is one of the finest examples of ancient buildings across the world. Built in AD 30, the amphitheatre had many uses but was primarily used as a theatre to stage plays and productions. It is famous today as a top opera stage visited regularly by operatic schools and global audiences worldwide.
Later in the afternoon, we take a guided tour of a local winery, before enjoying a dinner in a Verona restaurant and an Italian wine tasting.
Day 4: Cruise to Isola del Garda
Our first excursion takes us on a tranquil cruise across the azure Lake Garda to the attractive island of Isola del Garda.
This tranquil island is a gem at the heart of the lake, used by a variety of different civilisations for various purposes including as a Roman burial site, a monastery and as the home for various aristocratic Italian families.
The main building is a remarkable white villa built in a Venetian neo-Gothic style from the beginning of the 20th century, and it surrounding gardens are a delight to explore. Boasting a wide array of beautiful flowers from around the world, here you can see palm trees, herb gardens and flower arrangements, set against the warm blue of the lake and the dusky backdrop of the forested mountains.Nowadays, Lady Charlotte Cavazza and her family live here and they have opened the island to visitors. We spend some time here on a guided tour discovering the extensive history and wonderful architecture before continuing to sample some of the exceptional bruschetta and wine which are made both on the island and in the nearby region
We leave Italy and Lake Garda behind today, as we make the scenic rail journey up through the Brenner Pass between the Italian Alps to Germany and into Bavaria, via Innsbruck in Austria. This route takes us through heady snow-capped mountains, through valley passes and under tunnels on our way into northern Europe. We sit back and relax as we are regaled by stunning Alpine panoramas which separate Italy from Germany.
We travel to Oberammergau where we check into our hotel in or around the Ammergau region, for the next two nights. Upon arrival and after settling in, you have free time to explore or relax. Oberammergau is famous for its woodcarving heritage, with its squares and streets filled with traditional shops sourcing their produce from a variety of local carvers who use methods handed down from generation to generation.
Day 6: The Passion Play
Our tour begins at London St Pancras International, where after meeting your Tour Manager, we board the Eurostar service to Paris where, on arrival, we continue to Stuttgart where we stay over night.
Day 2: We travel to Zell am See, where we stay for the next three nights. Depending on departure date, we either stay at the Grand Hotel Zell am See or the 4-Star Superior Sporthotel Alpin. Zell am See is one of the most well-known Austrian towns, a haven for visitors, skiers and hikers alike. The lake on whose banks it is sat is a glorious expanse of water stretched across the entire valley.
Day 3: The Pinzgaubahn and the Krimml WaterFalls
Our excursion today, takes us by coach to Krimml in the Hohe Tauern National Park, the second largest wildlife preserve in Europe and home to the glorious Krimml Waterfalls, the largest waterfalls in Austria and thought to be the highest in Europe. Over 380 metres high, crashing down onto the rocks below, the Krimml Waterfalls cast a shimmering mist over the sumptuous backdrop of the valley below.
Guided walks follow a trail which passes by the three stages of the falls as they thunder into pools guarded by pine tree forests and craggy rock formations. The valley, the Krimmler Ache Valley is a glorious example of a postcard Austrian valley, complete with forested valley walls, noble Alpine mountains and traditional farmlands and barns. The waters here are exceptionally pure glacial waters sourced from the peaks above, and are actually recognised by the local government as being beneficial to the health of those who visit, specifically for aiding the immune system.
After some time here, we transfer to Mittersil for a journey on the wonderful narrowgauge Pinzgauer Lokalbahn Railway which treks to Zell am See, offering marvellous views across the forests below. With jolly red carriages trundling below the steep tall pine covered mountains, this train gives a superb panoramic snapshot of the picture perfect Austrian countryside.
Today sees us visit the Hohe Tauern National Park and journey along the superb Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Regarded as one of the world’s finest roads, this section provides us with unparalleled views across the stunning valleys and mountains, crowned by the ancient and magnificent Grossglockner, Austria’s tallest mountain.
Wriggling up and over the small foothills, the route takes us past fresh waterfalls, chocolate box towns and verdant meadows on a journey which connects the small communes which in this corner of the world. Keep an eye out here for the wonderful wildlife which call this place home including regal birds of prey, adorable marmots and the magnificent Alpine ibex, a wild goat native to the region with excellent curved horns.
One of several stops on the way is the enchanting village of Heiligenblut where we have some time at leisure. This town at the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park lies at the foot of the Black Mountain, Grossglockner, and is the gem in the crown for the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. At the heart of this fairy tale village is an impressive Gothic church with an exquisite spire and reverent interiors, striking against the Alpine sky
Day 5: To Oberammergau
Leaving Zell am See today, we travel by rail to Oberammergau where we check into our hotel, in or around the Ammergau region. After settling in, we have some time here to explore before dinner this evening.
Day 6: The Passion Play
Today features the highlight of our tour: the magnificent Oberammergau Passion Play – the story of which you will have read above.
Unsurprisingly, the play is of massive importance for the village, due much in part to the fact that it is only performed once every ten years, adding a huge sense of gravitas to each showing. Our top tier tickets grant us some of the best seats in the house. We enjoy a special Passion Play dinner during the two hour break.
Day 7 & 8: To London via Cologne
Bidding Oberammergau and Bavaria a fond farewell today, we travel by rail through Germany to Munich and then on to Cologne where we stay overnight. Our train arrives into Cologne by mid-afternoon, giving you ample to explore this superb city and its spectacular Gothic cathedral, home to the shrine of the Three Kings.
The following day on Day 8, we continue to Brussels where we transfer to the Eurostar service to London. Here our tour comes to an end.
Oberammergau and the Castles & Lakes of Bavaria 2020
This is an 8 day tour from our Travel Partner, Great Rail Journeys the fairy tale castles and lakes of Bavaria taking in this fantastic spectacle along with the fairy tale beauty of Bavaria, with its mysterious castles and forbidden forests, .including top category tickets to a performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play
Day 1-2: London to Fussen
We begin our Bavarian adventure at our dedicated Departure Office at St Pancras International where we travel by Eurostar to Paris in Standard Premier Class. Here, we continue to Stuttgart by First Class rail where we overnight.
Day 2: Sees us travel on to the village of Füssen on Germany’s Romantic Road where we stay for the next four nights. After checking in, you have time to explore this picture book village, taking in the colourful houses, medieval walls, and historic churches before we dine together this evening.
Füssen finds itself hidden away at the base of the Alps, enjoying all of the beautiful landscapes which this iconic mountain range provides. Sitting on the Lech River, Füssen is a charming base from which to venture out and take in everything this marvellous part of the world has to offer
Day 3: The Zugspitze Railway
Today we enjoy an enthralling journey on the Zugspitze Railway (Standard Class) which makes the delightful journey to the summit of Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.
Trawling through pine trees and foothills, passing through charming Bavarian villages with chocolate box railway stations, and straddling ancient mountains, the Zugspitze Railway is panoramic, scenic and beautiful. Chalets, barns and farmlands dot the meadows, and these delightful carriages offer breathtaking views of the Zugspitze mountain range
The final leg sees us take a cable car over the forests to the very top, where we have free time. The Zugspitze Mountain is instantly identifiable by its unique shape as it looms over the valley and forests below.
Day 4: Neuschwanstein.and Hohenschwangau Castles
Our excursion today takes us first to the glorious Neuschwanstein Castle. This fantastic fortress, nestled in the Alps, is a stunning sight, both outside and in. With a storied history reaching back to the wealth of empires before it, this castle is famously the inspiration for the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle which makes up part of the Disney logo. With its towers, buttresses and grand halls, you would be hardpressed to find a better example of a fairy tale castle, as it stands tall and proud, as if straight from the pages of a Brothers Grimm story.
Neuschwanstein was built originally by Ludwig II of Bavaria using his own funds, and was intended as both a private retreat and a home. Sadly, the king was killed in suspicious circumstances in 1886 and consequently was never able to enjoy the fruits of his economic investment. However, his design has attracted millions of visitors to the region and the castle to enjoy the superb architecture and interiors. Designed in a Romanesque style, the architecture of Neuschwanstein recalls the old medieval castles and fortresses of old, with Ludwig II enjoying significant input into the design.
We also visit the delightful yellow castle of Hohenschwangau in the pretty village of the same name. Perhaps a less grand affair than its larger and more majestic neighbour, Hohenschwangau Castle sacrifices grandeur for a more relaxed charm. It was the childhood home of the aforementioned Ludwig II and looks more like a country palace rather than the castle it claims to be. The honey coloured walls make this an iconic building, and both the exterior, interior and garden areas are a joy to discover. This part of the valley also offers fantastic views of Neuschwanstein.
Day 5: At Leisure in Fussen
Today, you are at leisure to enjoy the charms of the quintessentially Bavarian Füssen. Füssen is actually a very old town, found on the banks of the Lech River and near the Forggensee lake, with its settlement dating back to the times of the Roman Empire. The town is filled with delightful buildings with rust-coloured red roofs and squares of bars, cafés and restaurants.
Well worth a visit is the pretty St. Mang’s Abbey. This wonderful old Benedictine Monastery boasts ornate plasterwork and splendid interiors within its noble old buildings. With the town itself being used as a retreat for the Prince-Bishops of Augsburg, there are strong religious connotations here, and St. Mang’s Abbey is a demonstration of the wealth which the visiting Prince-Bishops bestowed upon the region.The nearby Forggensee lake is also an attractive proposition for visitors to Füssen, with the town itself having many transport links to this gentle lake where you can enjoy a leisurely boat rid
Day 6: The Oberammergau Passion Play
This morning, we travel to Oberammergau where we check into our hotel in or around the town. After settling in, we enjoy the undisputed highlight of our tour – the Oberammergau Passion Play.
Our top tier tickets grant us seats at the front and centre, with some of the best seats in the house. Split into two halves, with each half lasting three hours with a two hour break, we spend the rest of the day here, enjoying a special dinner in the two hour break.
Day 7-8: Nuremberg
Leaving Oberammergau this morning, we travel by rail (Standard Class) to Munich, from where we continue on to Nuremberg, where we stay for the final night of our tour. By evening, you may wish to venture out into the streets and explore a little of Nuremberg’s medieval streets. Founded on important trade routes, Nuremberg lies in the shadow of an enormous castle made up of various buildings and keeps.
On Day 8, we make our return journey, travelling in First Class to Frankfurt before connecting with the Eurostar back to London via Paris.
Tailor Made Travel can fulfil your dreams and aspirations – for further details and information of these and other tours available from our Travel Partner, Great Rail Journeys, or to tailor make your ideal itinerary please contact us.
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