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2020 will be a very special year for Golden Compass Tours, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. Our very own Kiwi, Louise Shave, is leading a special Silver Anniversary A Journey through New Zealand tour very soon, in February, and our own proud Welshman, Mark Goodwin, will be leading a celebratory tour to Discover Wales, his native land, later in August. We have also already guaranteed a number of tours for 2020 and these can be seen by clicking here.

Oberammergau Passion Play - Jesus arrives in Jerusalem

2020 will also mark the third occasion that Golden Compass Tours has taken groups to the world-famous Passion Play in Oberammergau, Bavaria. We are excited that our contacts in the village have informed us that rehearsals for this culturally important and probably once-in-a-lifetime event (the next performance will not be until 2030!) began just before Christmas, when the 150 actors entrusted with speaking roles by director, Christian Stückl, came together for the first time. In addition to the double-casted 42 main actors, such as Jesus, Mary, Judas, Caiaphas or Pilate, all the minor roles: the apostles, the Roman and Jewish soldiers, the High Council and the women in the wake of Jesus were also present at the rehearsal.

Stückl at an early rehearsal of the Oberammergau Passion Play

We have been told that Stückl has comprehensively edited the text for the 2020 Passion Play in recent months. In the tradition of the Passion Play, the story of Jesus has always been the focus of the performance and already, in the past, Stückl has put a greater focus on the message and the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but this will be further extended in the 2020 Passion Play, as Stückl especially highlights the social aspects in Jesus' message. Jesus' work on the margins of society, his commitment to the forgotten, the displaced and the poor, forms the centre of the production.

Making new costumes for the 2020 Passion Play

Soon, at the end of January, the first big rehearsals, with the people of Jerusalem, take place on the stage of the Passion Play Theatre. The stage and costume designer, Stefan Hageneier, has again redesigned the stage of the Passion Play Theatre for the 2020 production, conceptualising the scenery and the 12 Living Images (tableaux vivants) and has created new costumes for the more than 2,000 actors. The musical director, Markus Zwink, has also revised parts of the passion music and composed new pieces of music for this Passion Play, which are currently being rehearsed by the choir and the orchestra.

As you can see, the entire community of this tiny and atmospherically scenic Alpine village of Oberammergau are intimately involved in all the preparations for another Passion Play, which is truly a significantly awe-inspiring and moving religious and cultural event, not to be missed.

At Golden Compass, we too have been making our careful preparations for this ten-yearly event and have secured some very comfortable accommodation for our comprehensive two-night package within the pretty village of Oberammergau itself, along with good quality tickets to attend the Passion Play. This all ensures you will have the best possible experience of this unique world event.

Your understanding of the Passion Play and the colourful events in the village will be further enhanced by your Golden Compass Program Leaders, Mark Goodwin and Hugh Morgan, who are both fluent German speakers and have both attended many more Passion Plays in Oberammergau than even they can remember!

Charles Bridge, Prague

Mark will be leading our popular Hapsburg Cities with Oberammergau tour, which features the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Bavaria including, of course, the Oberammergau Passion Play. This tour explores the great cities of the Hapsburgs, the golden trio of Vienna, Prague and Budapest, which influenced not only the body politic but also the awesome outpouring of creativity from composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Liszt and Dvorak to Smetena, Bartok and Janacek. During Mark's tour we consider the great works of art and outstanding architectural heritage of these cities, as well as the impressive Bavarian capital, Munich. This tour allows us to listen to some impressive music and to view some outstanding artworks.

Of the Hapsburg cities, Prague is considered the jewel in the crown with its UNESCO listed architecture. We explore Budapest’s great Neo-Gothic buildings and the Neo-Classical splendours of Vienna. We also discover the Slovak capital, Bratislava, another of the great, elegant Hapsburg cities, with a charming mediaeval old town dominated by a hill- top castle overlooking the Danube, as well as staying in the charming Austrian lakes to visit elegant Salzburg.

Jungfrau, Switzerland

Hugh will be leading our European Alpine Discovery with Oberammergau tour, which features the stunning scenery of Bavaria, Austria, Italy and Switzerland as well as the Bernina (Heidi) and Glacier Express Trains. On this tour, we explore the European Alps, which form both a great barrier and a link between the flat lowlands of the Northern European Plain and the coastal regions of the Mediterranean. In this stunning mountain range we learn about a rich mix of peoples, cultures and heritages reflecting the isolation of this Alpine region and the diverse cultures with which they came into contact. Almost each village has its own traditions, dialect and customs.

Hugh's program compares and contrasts the peoples and traditions of the Alpine countries of Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria, and northern Italy. Here we explore the differing regions of Switzerland, from the wooden mountain villages of the Jungfrau to the sophisticated Alpine resort of Davos and to the mediaeval towns of the Rhine Valley. We discover the differing regions of Austria, from the cosmopolitan city of Salzburg to the fiercely independent province of the Tyrol. We also experience the Dolomites, the former Hapsburg domain now an autonomous region of Italy, as well as the former Kingdom of Bavaria.

Both our tours commence in early June 2020 and come together to attend the same performance at the world-famous Passion Play in the Bavarian village of Oberammergau.

If you wish to combine either of these tours with further adventures in Europe, they are designed so that you can explore more of Italy with Hugh prior to our Oberammergau tours, on our Undiscovered Italy and Taste of Campania, or you can learn more about Germany after these tours with Mark's Highlights of Germany. Other tours, such as our Adriatic Discovery or Corsican Discovery can also be combined with a tour to include Oberammergau in 2020.

With such high demand to experience the Passion Play, we only have a very few spaces remaining on our special Oberammergau departures, so please do not miss out on your chance to reserve your very own special place with Mark or Hugh. Contact us today and reserve your seat at the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play!

We look forward to hearing from you,

With best wishes,

Mark Goodwin and Hugh Morgan
Golden Compass Program Leaders

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New Tours for 2021

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Refer a Friend Rewards

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Norfolk Island:

19 March - 27 March 2021

Norfolk Island has a unique beauty, with its renowned tall majestic pines, crystal clear waters, sheer cliff faces, coral reefs and beautiful beaches. Norfolk Island, which lies directly east of Australia and north of New Zealand, is far more than a picturesque island in the South Pacific, it is paradise with a past.


Inclusive of field trips, local guides, gratuities and many meals.