It's a few weeks later than expected, but it seems the great British winter really has arrived this week - and Britain is set to be battered by Arctic storms and dangerous 100mph hurricane-force gales.
The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for almost all regions across the UK, as forecaster Helen Chivers explains: 'We are expecting a spell of extremely strong winds and rain across much of the UK. Storms and wind force will reach 70 to 80mph quite widely across the country and will even reach 100mph as far south as East Anglia.
'These winds will cause transport chaos, damage buildings and bring down trees.'
A red alert waring has been issued, meaning there is potential for damage to homes and power lines, as well as a risk to personal safety from flying debris, and transport chaos across the country.
Ms Chivers told the Express: 'The strongest winds will reach us on Thursday afternoon and evening and will be worst during rush hour.
'Anyone traveling needs to be aware that the travel conditions will be extremely poor - people should also keep up to date with police and transport updates.'
Temperatures will continue to drop to around -3, while snow could hit areas as far south as Birmingham by Friday, with four inches of the white stuff predicted. Saturday will bring icy roads and frosts for the whole of Britain apart from the South East.
The Scottish borders have seen a reasonable amount of snow already, and the wintry weather has so far claimed two lives when transport conditions became dangerous in Lincolnshire and Glasgow.
Spend Christmas in the sun!
Time to book a holiday! Britain to be hit by Arctic storms and 100mph wind
A Caribbean Christmas is all about island hospitality, which means food and drink – and plenty of it. Swap turkey, sprouts and Baileys for cured, salted ham, roast pork and black cake, washed down with mauby, ginger beer, sorrel and punch of cream. Seven nights all-inclusive at the private island resort, Palm Island, St Vincent costs from £3125 per person. kuoni.com
If the Ancient Mayans had it right and the world is set to end on December 31, 2012, we may as well make the most of this, our last Christmas on earth. And it may not guarantee you a place in heaven, but a holiday spent staying with local Mayans in Mundo Maya and helping out with eco projects would certainly be more worthwhile (not to mention fun) than the usual telly slump-fest. elhombresobrelatierra.org
With average daily December temperatures in the low twenties, you can pretty much guarantee you'll get better weather in La Gomera than you would in Godalming. For a more homely atmosphere than you'd find at a big, all-inclusive, stay in the Parador de la Gomera, a traditional Canary manor house, dining on island specialties such as fish stew and baby goat cooked with wine and almonds. A two night stay (Dec 24/25) costs £352. keytel.co.uk
Warm up for Christmas with the soulful sounds (and many Mojitos) of the Havana International Jazz Festival, which runs from 11-19th December. Or, if you've got the kids in tow, the Family Christmas experience, which includes swimming with dolphins, and trekking through the jungle, might even be enough to prise them from their DS... 14 nights from £4480 per person (half price for children), including flights. esenciaexperiences.com
You're (hopefully) more likely to be killed by a faulty cracker than a shark this Christmas, so don't be put off by the name (or the news), don a mask and snorkel and spend the festive season exploring some of the most stunning underwater scenery in the world. Beats the Eastenders omnibus any day. Seven nights at the Hilton Shark's Bay Hotel, Sharm el Sheikh from £1,049 per person, including flights and a Christmas gala dinner. olympicholidays.com
Where would you rather be munching your mince pies this year? Squashed on the sofa at Aunt Pat's house or aboard a private yacht heading out to the breathtaking Similan Islands? Well, if you've got a spare £2,000, you could be doing just that, staying at the five star Sarojin resort in Khao Lak. Six nights from £1,999 per person, including flights. trailfinders.com.
Escape the orgy of consumerism that is Christmas in the UK, staying at the Footsteps Eco Lodge. Solar and wind powered, with home grown food and a freshwater pool, the lodge is a bird and nature lovers' paradise. Seven nights costs £959 per person, including flights. cosmos-holidays.co.uk
If Dubai's a bit built up for you, an island haven in neighbouring Abu Dhabi could be the answer. Swap carol singing for kayaking in the waters of the Arabian Gulf, and instead of gorging on Quality Street, treat yourself to a 'Sands of Time' deep tissue treatment in the heavenly Spa... Rooms at the Desert Islands Resort & Spa from £205 per night. anantara.com.
Trade the usual dry roast turkey for an exotic turkey tagine, gazing out over the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Four nights at the brand new Riad Africa costs from £399 per person, including a day trip to a Berber village in Toubkal National Park, a full body massage and hammam. Flights not included. specialistmorocco.co.uk
The Maldives is never going to be a budget option, but fly to the Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort on the 13 December and you'll save £990 per person, compared to travelling two weeks later. Christmas Maldives-style includes carolling and punch in the bar on Christmas eve and a lobster buffet on the beach. 14 nights costs £2,459 per person, including flights. firstchoice.co.uk