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Press Release

A free festival with street food and dragon boat racing is returning to Birmingham this summer.

The 10th National Nowka Bais will be held at Edgbaston Reservoir in Birmingham on Sunday, July 29, 2018, it’s been announced.

Nowka Bais means a traditional dragon boat race as seen in rural villages of Bangladesh after the monsoon rains have filled the rivers. It was introduced to the UK by Aziz Rahman in 2007 as part of a 1000 years celebration of Oxfordshire.

Each boat is traditionally 40ft long, painted bright red, white, yellow and green, and paddled by a 16-man crew in brightly-coloured robes who follow the beat of a drummer in the prow of the craft.

The race, which is the largest of its kind in Britain, is the centrepiece of a community festival that also offers Bangladeshi street food, arts and crafts stalls, a funfair, sports activities, rowing and sailing taster sessions, as well as live music and dance.

Bangadeshi and UK artists will be performing at the event, which include urban/rnb/bangla Artist ‘Nish’ with his hit single ‘Bangla Medley’ as well as many Bangladeshi artists.

John Uddin, Nowka Bais CIC Director, said: “This is a very traditional sport in Bangladesh and is influenced by the waterways which are an important element in Bangladeshi life.

“Nowka Bais is a jubilant, colorful, lively, action-packed event in Bangladesh and it is a joy bringing it to Birmingham once again.

“The return of the Nowka Bais to Birmingham promises a day of fun, food and entertainment for all, along with the opportunity to learn about other cultures in an atmosphere of goodwill and in a spirit of cooperation.

“It’s one of Birmingham’s premiere events and one that’s attended by more than 20,000 people."

The event starts from 11am, with the first race expected to start at 11.30am. In total, 18 teams will compete in races throughout the day, with the final contest of rowing speed and skill taking place around 6pm.

You can register your team via the Nowka Bais website

Cash prizes, medals and certificates will be awarded to the top three winning teams. The best dressed and most entertaining team will also receive a prize.

There’s no admission charge to this event and free parking is available nearby.

Parking will be available at the following places:

Tower Ball Room Car Park
Reservoir Rd, Birmingham B16 9EE, 400 parking spaces

Canal and River Trust Car Park 
Icknield Port Rd, Birmingham B16 0AA, 160 parking spaces

The H Suite
Icknield Port Rd, Birmingham B16 0AA, 160 parking spaces

The Nowka Bais has support and sponsorship from charitable groups, community organisations and businesses including Canal & River Trust and Midlands Sailing Club.

“We are delighted to welcome the Nowka Bais back to Edgbaston Reservoir as it’s a really fun event and really brings the local community together," said Bashir Ahmed, Canal & River Trust spokesperson.

“The Nowka Bais is great fun and we’ve entered a team of local volunteers in the race and we hope they do well and clinch the winner’s trophy."

Abdur Rahman Co-Founder & Director Nowka Bais CIC Director, said “Since Nowka Bais came to the heart of the UK the Midlands, the event has gone from strength to strength. Celebrating our 10th year, this rural village sport has been bought back to life in the United Kingdom – we should all be proud of what has been achieved"

Nowka Bais 2018 is also one of the events of Birmingham City Council’s Utsav: the Year of South Asian Culture. Utsav is an old Sanskrit word meaning festival or celebration.