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Oberammergau 2020

The premiere of the 42nd Passion Play will take place on May 16, 2020. The tradition, maintained and experienced almost without interruption for over 380 years, of putting on the play about the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ every ten years is regarded as the most important passion play in the world.

This small village at the edge of the Bavarian Alps expects more than 450,000 visitors in the summer of 2020 to witness 102 performances over a twenty week period.

This will be McCabe’s fourth season of holidays including the play, and for the fourth time Alistair McCabe is supervising all arrangements with the help of a very able team in Austria and Germany. A comprehensive programme of holidays is being planned and this will go on sale at Easter 2018.

We invite individual travellers to register your interest now and we will keep you up to date with how plans are developing.

We invite group organisers also to register now and we will try and incorporate your ideas into our planning process.

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The History

A play of life and death, promised in a moment of mortal threat …

so began the history of the Oberammergau Passion Play in 1633. In the middle of the Thirty Years War, after months of suffering and death from the plague, the Oberammergauers swore an oath that they would perform the "Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ" every ten years. At Pentecost 1634, they fulfilled their pledge for the first time on a stage they put up in the cemetery above the fresh graves of the plague victims.

In the year 2020, the Community of Oberammergau will perform the Passion Play, they have preserved for over 380 years, for the 42nd time. All actors of the world's largest amateur dramatic performance come from the village, since a special play law is in effect. All participants, from actors playing the big speaking parts such as Jesus, Mary or Judas, through members of the choir, orchestra members, firemen and ushers, must have been born in Oberammergau or lived there for at least 20 years.


About the Performance

The five hour performance begins early afternoon and ends late in the evening with a three hour interval when all visitors are allocated a restaurant for dinner. The play covers the period of Jesus entering Jerusalem and continues up to his death on the Cross and his resurrection. Scenes, such as the Palm Sunday procession, involve vast numbers on stage. The children of the village singing Hosana are particularly moving. A full orchestra accompanies and a large choir all of whom are drawn from the inhabitants of this remarkable village.

The village prepares

By Ash Wednesday 2019, all participants in the play let their hair grow - and men also their beards - in accordance with a long tradition, the "Beard and Hair Edict". In spring 2019, the names of the actors will be announced.

Under the direction of Christian Stückl, stage designer Stefan Hageneier and the music directors Markus Zwink and Michael Bocklet (all villagers), rehearsals will begin ten months before the first performance and continue through the winter snows on the open air stage, reflecting tremendous community commitment to the project.

Altogether, more than 2.000 Oberammergau villagers will participate in the 2020 Passion Play. In addition to the major characters of Jesus, Mary, Peter, Judas, Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas, there are 120 larger and smaller speaking parts.

“Staging, music and costuming would meet professional standards anywhere. At various times, the wide, outdoor stage holds hundreds of people, small herds of sheep and goats, donkeys, a horse, armoured Roman soldiers or 48 choristers wearing long, flowing robes” [Chicago Tribune]

McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is the charitable wing of McCabe Pilgrimages, functions independently with its own board of Directors and is a registered charity.

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Organising a Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage is ALL we do and in 2013 we celebrated our thirtieth year in business – so we must be doing something right! We work with all denominations and are happy to tailor every pilgrimage to the needs of each particular church. For instance, some parties would plan one or two Eucharists during their pilgrimage but others will choose a daily celebration. In the Holy Land, your focus may be the Galilean ministry or a re-creation of Holy Week in Jerusalem. You tell us what your particular interest is and we will recommend an itinerary

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