Moers Festival

Moers Festival

Genre Jazz
Dates Whitsun
Location(s) Moers, Germany
Years active 1972–present
Founded by Burkhard Hennen

The Moers Festival is an international jazz festival in Moers, Germany, happening yearly every Whitsun.

Many famous musicians have appeared there, including Fred Frith, David Murray, Cecil Taylor, Lester Bowie, Herbie Hancock, Abdullah Ibrahim, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, and Jan Garbarek.

Over the years the festival's music character has changed from pure free jazz to include world music and crossovers with popular music. Today it includes all kinds of jazz-related music, though still with many experimental and avant-garde performers.


In 1978 the International New Jazz Festival Moers took place outdoors. (picture David Friedman)
On stage (2004, Ned Rothenberg Double Band)

The festival was founded in 1971[1] by Burkhard Hennen, as initiator and artistic director. The International New Jazz Festival Moers established itself quickly in the national and international free jazz scene.

In the early years it took place in the paved yard of the castle. Later (1975), it moved to a nearby park because of the growing audience. After a few years outdoors, it moved to a large marquee where it remains now.

In 1974 the Germany-based jazz record label Moers Music was created to document performances at the festival.[2]

In 1979 the festival was enlarged with several morning projects.

The African Dance Night was added as a popular event in 1985. Well-known musicians such as Mory Kanté, Salif Keita, Cheb Mami and Youssou N’Dour played there. After the artistic director changed in 2005, the event was discontinued.

In 2005, after 34 years as artistic director, Burkhard Hennen handed the job over to Reiner Michalke. The festival is now officially named "mœrs festival", with lowercase letters.

Due to financial crisis of the city the festival was shorted to only three days since 2011.

Selected discography


  1. Beal, Amy C. (2006). New Music, New Allies: American Experimental Music in West Germany from the Zero Hour to Reunification, p. 167. University of California Press.
  2. Jenkins, Todd F. (2004). Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia, p. 238. Greenwood Publishing Group.


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