WHAT: Oberammergau, an Alpine village in southern Germany.
WHEN: May 22-Oct. 6, 2000.
WHY GO: Because if you don't, you'll have to wait another 10 years to see the village's historic Passion Play, an all-day, outdoor dramatization of the life of Jesus featuring hundreds of townsfolk and dozens of animals.
WHY PLAN NOW: Passion Play tickets are sold out, but you can still attend via package deals, which ensure a room in a tight lodging market. That said, Helena Novak of General Tours in Keene, N.H., echoes other tour operators when she warns that "slots are filling fast, and travelers will need to be very flexible with their dates."
GETTING THERE: The German National Tourist Office can provide a list of tour operators selling Passion Play packages, including a sampling of their offerings; I found others on the Web and in newspaper ads. Multi-city tours, with air and lodging, start at about $2,000 per person for seven to nine days, including play tickets. Wilcox Travel (1-800- 438-5828, www.wilcoxtravel.com) of Asheville, N.C., for example, has a 10-day Germany and Czech Republic tour leaving June 25 with a stop in Oberammergau. The price is $2,995 per person, plus air fare to Atlanta (the tour's departure point). Some firms are also offering land-only packages, including General Tours (1-800-221- 2216, www.generaltours.com), which has a four-day/three-night deal that includes tickets and lodging; rates start at $649 per person, but bookings are extremely limited.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: Many tours include a stop at Expo 2000 (June- October, www.expo2000.de), the Millennium World's Fair in Hannover that will feature pavilions, entertainment and sporting events.
FOR MORE INFO: German National Tourist Office (212-661-7200, www.germany-
tourism.de). The village maintains a Web site at www.oberammergau.de.
WHAT'S THE DEAL?
Free Lift Tickets; Cheap Sleeps in Glasgow
* Colorado's Crested Butte is giving away free ski lift tickets Nov. 19-Dec. 18 and is offering a four-hour, "never-ever" beginner's lesson for $17, down from $59. One early-season risk: that fickle white stuff. However, the resort says that, at the very least, its lower-mountain groomed trails will be open, with man-made snow. With the $52-a-day cost of skiing taken care of, this Out West getaway can be had for less than $700, including a $380 United flight from Dulles to Gunnison and three nights at the no-frills Manor Lodge for $275 (double occupancy; $18 travel insurance included, but can be waived). 1-800-544-8448, www.crestedbutteresort.com.
* Icelandair's air-and-land deal in Glasgow offers two nights of hotel accommodations at youth hostel prices. The $486 deal includes: round-trip air fare from BWI (usually about $460) and two nights at the Quality Hotel, in the downtown shopping district. (Travel must be completed by March 31; 14-day advance ticket purchase is required, with holiday blackouts.) Nights thereafter cost $58. Weather warning: Scotland at this time of year can be cool and soggy. Says one Glasgowphile: "It rains 10 minutes on every hour--enough time to nip into the pub and have a pint." 1-800-223-5500, www.icelandair.com/us. --Andrea Sachs
TRAVEL TIP 120
The No-Brainer Electronic Check-In
PROBLEM: Airport check-in lines are too long.
SOLUTION: Automated electronic check-in centers offered by some airlines, including Northwest and Continental, at Reagan National and BWI airports.
TIP REPORT: E-check-in lines are shorter and move faster than regular check-in lines; the machines are easy to use; and--a powerful incentive-- Northwest offers frequent-flier mileage bonuses to passengers who check in electronically, advises tipster Joel Wallace of Washington. "I recently flew round-trip on Northwest from Reagan National to Memphis, and eaned an extra 2,000 miles (1,000 miles each way) just by using these machines to check in. That's one-tenth the mileage needed for a free round trip."
Send travel tips (100 words or less) to us by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org); postcard (Travel Tips, Washington Post Travel section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071); or fax (202-334-1069). Winners receive a Washington Post Travel section T-shirt. No purchase necessary. Tips become the property of The Washington Post, which may edit, publish, distribute and republish the information in any form.
HOME THIS WEEK?
"How to Fly Cheaply as an Air Courier," First Class Inc., Saturday, 202-797-5102, www.takeaclass.org.
Kennett Square, Pa.: Until Nov. 21, Chrysanthemum Festival, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens .org. The gardens are abloom with Japanese culture, from bonsai pruning to tea ceremonies.
Portsmouth, Va.: Nov. 27, Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks, 1-800-767-8782, www.ci.portsmouth .va.us. A 50-strong fleet of boats bedeck their, er, decks with holiday festoonery and float down the Elizabeth River.
Creede, Colo.: Nov. 26-27, Chocolate Festival, 1-800-327-2102, www.creede.com. Indulge on samples ranging from the sublime (chocolate-dipped chocolate cake) to the bizarre (jalapeno fudge).
Farmington, Maine: Dec. 4, Chester Greenwood Day, 207-778-4215, www.farmingtonchamber.org. Locals, cops, dogs and even goats don earmuffs for a parade honoring Chester Greenwood, who invented "ear protectors" in 1878.
Phuket, Thailand: Dec. 6-13, Phuket King's Cup Regatta, 212-432-0433, www.tourismthailand.org. Asia's premier sailboat race--first held to celebrate the king's 60th birthday--features no junks, but plenty of high-speed yachts of the America's Cup kind.
Send news about events, festivals and other things To Do by e-mail to email@example.com.
SITE OF THE WEEK
To estimate frequent-flier miles for an upcoming flight:
If you're a serious milehead, you likely know about Randy Petersen's best-of-breed Webflyer site. But you may have overlooked the neat Milemarker utility, which lets you estimate the number of flight miles you'd earn for projected flights. (About 7,700 round-trip miles from Dulles to De Gaulle; 1,896 round trip from BWI to Miami International.) Just commuting? It's about 89 miles round trip from BWI to Dulles.