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Austrian Adventure and the Oberammergau Passion Play

It isn’t often that you hear the words "off the beaten track" associated with group tours through Europe. But that’s exactly what our two-part Austrian Adventure is for our travelers. This 10-day tour first takes vacationers through the rugged and spectacularly beautiful Alpine region of Tyrol in Western Austria.

With its abundance of sights and activities, including lakes, forests, snow-capped mountains, Gothic cathedrals and architecture, art-covered buildings, castles, and excellent food and shopping, the Tyrolean region has something for every traveler.


The idyllic village of Seefeld serves as home base for the first week, offering easy access to other nearby attractions in the region, such as Salzburg, Chiemsee, and the Krimml Waterfalls.

The tour then culminates with a visit to the village of Oberammergau, where travelers have the opportunity to view the famed Oberammergau Passion Play. As I described in my last post, the Passion Play is a religious and cultural tradition dating back to 1633. This very special event takes place only every 10 years and attracts visitors from around the world.

Flights, transfers, great hotels, many meals, a comprehensive sightseeing tour program, and tickets to the Passion Play are all included in this amazing deal for $3,299. But hurry to reserve your space. This once-in-a-lifetime vacation package is sure to sell out quickly!

The Oberammergau Passion Play

In 1633, the villagers of Oberammergau, Bavaria, southern Germany, were in the grip of war and poverty. Worst of all, the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe. Villagers prayed to God for the safety of their families and themselves, and made a vow that if Oberammergau was spared death from the plague, they would perform a "passion play" every 10 years which re-enacts the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

In the end, not a single villager died as a result of the plague. True to their word, they performed the first Oberammergau Passion Play in 1634. And descendants of the original Oberammergau villagers have carried on with the tradition, performing the play every 10 years.

The play takes place four days a week between mid-May and early October, and hundreds of thousands of tickets are sold each year. But those without a ticket are out of luck. No recording of the play is ever made; the only way to see it is to witness it in person.

The actors performing in the play were either born in Oberammergau or lived there for at least 20 years. The stage is open air, but the seating area is covered and performances take place no matter the weather. The play is about seven hours long, and includes an intermission.

Many people consider a trip to see the Passion Play to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Due to the relatively small size of the theatre — approximately 5,000 seats — plus the fact that the play occurs only for one season every 10 years, there are limited chances for people to experience the Passion Play.

About half a million visitors viewed the last performance of the play in 2000, and more than twice that many were disappointed at not being able to obtain the coveted tickets. In 2010, Friendly Planet Travel is delighted to offer our travelers three different tours, all featuring a Passion Play performance in Oberammergau.

As with all Friendly Planet programs, each tour is full-featured and each departure is priced to save our travelers hundreds of dollars off similar programs. As in 2000, space is very limited, and once tickets are gone, it will be another 10 years before the next performance of the Passion Play.

Stay tuned this week, because I’ll be highlighting each of the three tours that feature the Oberammergau Passion Play, Austrian Adventure; Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Salzburg; and Enchanting Germany.