Oberammergau’s Passion Play and RUHR.2010 lead the way

Colorful Oberammergau is home of the Passion Play in 2010.

Photos by Don Heimburger

With anniversaries and unique events all year long, 2010 is shaping up to be a year of variety and diversity in Germany.

From modern to traditional, the festivals and anniversaries offer something for every taste: the RUHR.2010 European Capital of Culture, the decennial Passion Play performance, Robert Schumann’s 200th birthday, the 300th anniversary of the renown Meissen Porcelain, the 175th birthday of the German Railway and last but not least, the 200th year of the world’s most famous beer festival, the Oktoberfest in Munich.

Essen and the Ruhr Region in western Germany will be voted the “European Cultural Capital 2010.” For the first time in this European competition the cultural capital is not an individual city, but a whole region with Essen as the standard bearer. 

The Ruhr region is Germany’s highest populated area and especially exciting for its post-industrial transformation. Discover this region on the move with its cutting edge museums and art installations within the existing walls of former coal mines and factories. The exciting project RUHR.2010 celebrates those changes with fascinating exhibitions, events and workshops starting in January.  www.ruhr2010.de 

For the 41st time, the Bavarian village of Oberammergau will celebrate the Passion Play in 2010. This event has taken place every 20 years since its first enactment in 1633. More than 2,000 Oberammergauers, actors, singers, instrumentalists and stage technicians, bring to life the last days of Christ in approximately six hours of playing time. More than 500,000 visitors from all over the world and tens of thousands of Americans will be part of this unique religious event from May 15 to October 3. www.passionsspiele2010.de 

Only one year after Mendelssohn, Leipzig celebrates another one of its famous citizens: the 200th birthday of Robert Schumann. Many concerts will be dedicated to his works, featuring solo concertos, symphonies, piano works and song-cycles. 

Without Schumann, 20th century music would be quite different. The fusion of radical subjectivity and mastery of form, and his characteristic modernity and individuality, has inspired and influenced many composers who came after him. A highlight of the Schumann Year is the anniversary concert in the Leipziger Gewandhaus on June 3 and 4, but also Baden-Baden, Bonn, Bremen, Dresden, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Stuttgart and Zwickau will celebrate the composer with special concerts and exhibitions.  www.schumann-portal.de (German only) 

Oberammergau Mayor Arno Nunn

The history of European porcelain began with the discovery of hard porcelain and the subsequent founding of the Meissen porcelain workshop in 1710 near Dresden. In 2010 the Meissen porcelain workshop will celebrate the third centenary of its founding. Visitors can tour the factory and the museums as well as participate in workshops. 

The anniversary will be celebrated with several world class porcelain exhibitions in Meissen and Dresden. In the Meissen workshop the yearlong project “All Nations are Welcome” shows outstanding pieces of Meissen Porcelain that reflect the influence of different cultures and epochs during the workshop’s 300-year history. 

Within the walls of Albrechtsburg Castle in Meissen, where the first European porcelain workshop was founded in 1710, a special exhibition takes you deep into the beginnings of the Meissen porcelain (May 8 – October 31). Another highlight will be the exhibition in the Japanese Palais in Dresden, showing famous works from the first 100 years of the Meissen workshop (May – August). http://friedrich.meissen.com 

The world’s most famous beer festival, the Oktoberfest in Munich, celebrates its 200th anniversary from September to October 2010. It took place the first time in 1810 as a festival honoring the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The festival grounds Theresienwiesen were named after her. The Oktoberfest, or “Wiesn” as it is called in Bavaria, started out as a horse race. A parade was added in the following years, and at the end of the 19th century, local brewers opened their beer tents. Today it is an enormous festival, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world every year with Bavarian music, food and, of course, beer.  www.oktoberfest.de 

In Nuremberg, 175 years ago, the first German train, the steam-driven “Adler” (eagle) started off towards the neighboring city of Fuerth. To celebrate this milestone in Germany’s history, the city will host several events throughout 2010: During the “Blue Night” (May 15th), artists will stage spectacular projections and actions to kick off the Railway Year, the past will be brought to life again with major locomotive and vehicle parades planned by German Rail and a comprehensive jubilee exhibition in the Deutsche Bahn Museum will focus on 175 years of railway history (dates to be determined). www.nuernberg.de 

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