With hundreds of friends, family and excited onlookers gathering on Exeter Quay to support teams as part of our Annual Dragon Boat Festival each September, a carnival atmosphere is guaranteed.

The Dragon Boat race is one of the most popular events on the Devon Air Ambulance calendar and as such there are some features we can expect to look forward to each year. Here are our top five favourites.

Fantastic headgear

One of the delights of the Dragon Boat spectacle is the array of cheerful hats that adorn teams. Nothing says team spirit better than a boat full of friends or colleagues, united by their desire to win while wearing fluffy viking helmets.

From Dragon Boat Festival regulars to newcomers, we love identifying the various tribes each distinguishable by their creative headdresses. It certainly makes for a visual occasion and reminds everyone that the race is about putting the 'fun' into fundraising!


Emotional moments

Teams often enter the Dragon Boat race inspired to raise funds in memory of, or in support of, a beloved friend, family member or colleague who has received assistance from Devon Air Ambulance.

Doing something really dynamic and positive, like working as part of a team towards a worthy cause, can be a great way to recognise the efforts of those who attended an incident, as well as to heal emotionally - particularly if an experience has made a significant impact on those connected with a patient.

Often a patient's family or friends want to know how they can thank Devon Air Ambulance for the support, and helping support the people of Devon in turn by raising funds is a wonderful and empowering way to give back.


Gritty determination

Although many enter for fun, fundraising and for the experience of being part of a team, it's always exciting to see the determination on rowers' faces as they push themselves against their competition towards the finish line. We welcome snaps of some of the most fierce Dragon Boater facial expressions!



Many businesses understand that working together has a positive impact on staff morale and several of our teams are colleagues who enjoy the event as part of their annual away day.

There are all sorts of reasons why teams participate in the festival, but whether or not the intention is for teams to forge deeper bonds and develop skills in collaboration, these are the inevitable outcomes.

It's always a pleasure to participate in an event that generates a great deal of positivity and has such an impact on the people of Devon whom we serve.


Paddles mean prizes

Beyond the cheering, triumph and elation, one of the highlights of the day is the medal giving. Winners or not, we love the pictures of teams assembled to celebrate their successes, and certainly the incredible fundraising and support our rowers offer us is worth celebrating.

The Santander team at the 2017 Dragon Boat Festival with their cheque for Devon Air Ambulance

In 2018 it cost £7.5 million to keep Devon's Air Ambulances flying and this event helps to create the income we need to do so. Read more about our Dragon Boat Festival or speak to Tracy Owen on 013920 466666 if you would like to secure a spot for your team in this year's event.