Britain is expected to see temperatures of up to 14C on New Year's Day - as a mini heatwave sweeps in from the South Atlantic.
The unseasonably balmy weather is expected to continue until next Monday, with temps more commonly associated with spring.
Forecaster Charles Powell told the Express: "These are the type of temperatures we would expect to see in April during the spring, though I should stress it will only stay that warm for three days."
By Monday the mercury will drop back down to between 5C and 8C. But there is no sign of the kind of cold snap normally expected for this time of year, and temperatures further into January are likely to be a warm 12C to 13C.
This time last year, most of us were knee-deep in snow as the big freeze settled in. But this year, the UK is bursting into bloom, thanks to the freakishly mild temperatures.
Many trees and flowers are blooming more than two months prematurely - and the warm weather appears to have been a catalyst for all sorts of freakish events, including apple trees bearing fruit and cherry trees flowering.
Spring come early? New Year set for 'mini heatwave'
It's an old winter sun favourite and Barbados is the classic Caribbean island for a beach holiday. It's only eight hours away and temperatures reach up to 29 degrees in January with 10 hours of sunshine a day. The island is the culinary capital of the Caribbean, there are spectacular diving sites and the beaches are idyllic. Tropical Sky is offering seven nights on a premium all-inclusive basis at the four-star Turtle Beach from £1,649 per person (saving £590 per person) including flights from Gatwick, accommodation in a junior suite and resort transfers for departures from 7th January to 22nd March.
See alternative Thailand on a tour of its beautiful gardens during the 99-day Royal Flora Ratchaphruek flower festival when the flowers are in bloom throughout the start of the year. Tell Tale Travel's Gardens of Paradise trip takes in private gardens, world-renowned botanical gardens, a nature walk with an orchid expert and a visit to the Ratchaphruek exhibition. The two-week trip costs £1,900 per person for flights, accommodation, excursions and most meals. Visit telltaletravel.co.uk
With Christmas out of the way, January's the best time to explore real Finnish Lapland. Activities Abroad's Harriniva Husky Safari gives you the chance to head out into the wilderness and learn to mush a team of huskies 230km north of the Arctic Circle. You'll cover up to 40km each day, pass forests, cross fells and traverse frozen lakes before sleeping in cosy cabins each night. The cabins are away from pollution and perfect for viewing the Northern Lights. There are five departures in January with seven nights costing from £1,665 per person and including flights from Gatwick, transfers, full-board accommodation in a hotel and wilderness cabin, a five-day husky safari, cold-weather clothing and guides. Visit activitiesabroad.com
Cambodia's new Song Saa Island Resort is set in the idyllic Koh Rong archipelago, offering 25 villas in virgin rainforest surrounded by white-sand beaches. The resort has yoga facilities, a spa centre, a water-sports centre and a huge infinity pool. To make it even more attractive, you can save £1,981 per person with its opening offer during January. Combined with Angkor, a nine-night stay with four nights full board on Song Saa and five nights bed and breakfast at Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap costs £2,729 per person with ABOUTAsia Travel. The price includes all transfers (private flights and speedboats), VIP visa service, private guided tours of Angkor and a boat ride in Siem Reap. Flights from the UK are not included and the offer is available for travel until 13th February. Visit aboutasiatravel.com
The Algarve's a popular spot for a golf holiday but if you want to try somewhere new, Casablanca in Morocco is ideal and offers longer hours of daylight in winter. When it comes to exploring the city there's the Hassan II mosque, luxury shopping and trendy bars and restaurants. bmi flies from London Heathrow to Casablanca on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Fares cost from £149 return and you can carry free golfing equipment including a pair of golf shoes and one golf bag with clubs. Visit flybmi.com
Winter's a great time to visit Florida's famous parks as there are good deals and no queues for the rides like during the busy summer holidays. Get wet at SeaWorld Orlando and up-close to the park's sharks, killer whales and walruses. Busch Gardens is ideal for thrill-seekers and has some of the world's best rollercoasters. Aquatica boasts unique water rides and animal encounters and Discovery Cove gives you exclusive access to animals, allowing you to swim with dolphins, giant rays and tropical fish. Visit seaworldparks.co.uk
Take to the sea this January and experience 12 days of sun and fun activities for all on a family cruise through Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. Royal Caribbean calls at Lisbon, Lanzarote, Funchal, Tenerife, Las Palmas, La Coruna and Vigo. There are 15 decks of entertainment including the adventure beach family pool area, a children’s water park, Johnny Rockets American Diner, a teens-only nightclub, mother and daughter and father and son spa facilities and shopping. The cruise costs £796 per adult and £306 per child including meals based on the 10th January departure. Visit royalcaribbean.co.uk
Fancy spending a week on the beach this winter? The Cape Verde islands are located 500km off the coast of West Africa and share African and Portuguese influences. They're not as touristy as the Canary Islands and have gorgeous beaches in Sal and Boa Vista. Cape Verde is also a paradise for surfers, hikers and divers. Sunshine.co.uk is offering a seven-night stay at the four-star Dunas De Sal Hotel in Sal for £317.85 per person from 19th January and flights for £256 per person from London Gatwick. Visit sunshine.co.uk
If you're looking to get fit in the new year and want a holiday that will keep you on track, a walking break in Madeira to start 2012 is the perfect way to do it. The stunning landscape varies from rugged coastline, volcanic peaks and tropical flora. Sunvil Discovery is offering a seven-night stay at the five-star Quinta da Casa Branca in Funchal in January from £885 per person including flights from Gatwick, all transfers and four guided walks. Visit sunvil.co.uk
The start of a new year doesn't have to mean the end of Christmas. In the Spanish city of Malaga the celebrations culminate on 6th January with the Día de Los Reyes Magos (Epiphany) parade on the evening of the 5th, which celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings. The parade goes through the streets of Malaga with colourful lights, artistic costumes, giant balloons and music. Spain-holiday.com is offering a four-night stay in a centrally-located one-bedroom apartment (property ref – 9964) overlooking Plaza Las Flores from £137 per person. Visit spain-holiday.com
The trailer for the eagerly anticipated film The Hobbit has been released and now you just have to wait until December 2012 to see it, but if you're desperate to get your Hobbit fix before then and fancy following in the footsteps of Bilbo, visit New Zealand this February to take a tour of where it was filmed. World Expeditions’ luxury 13-day Aotearoa - The Natural Elements cruise allows you to explore the natural beauty of New Zealand, where you'll visit bubbling thermal pools, snow-capped mountains and stretches of white sandy beaches. You'll discover the rugged eastern coast, the iconic Doubtful Sound and marvel at the unique wildlife. The cruise departs on 16 February 2012 and costs from £3,790 per person based on a twin-share room on the main deck. Visit worldexpeditions.com
If culture and history are what you're searching for in a winter getaway and don't mind bringing your coat, Amman in Jordan is a fantastic city with plenty to see and do, even though it's not the hottest time of the year. The city is home to the Pasha Turkish Bath, where you can relax in its oriental garden setting, a magnificent Roman amphitheatre built around 150 AD and plenty of shopping boutiques in the many malls. Amman is also close to the Roman ruins of Jerash, which are a must-see and around 30 miles away is the Dead Sea, which has such a high level of salt that it makes you float! bmi flies from London Heathrow to Amman seven days a week with return fares from £198. Visit flybmi.com
February is a great time to visit Hawaii, when it's winter but the average temperature is 27 degrees! Whale watching season is in full swing, the mountains are at their greenest and there are big waves on the North Shore of Oahu. You'll also find some exciting festivals taking place in February including Chinese New Year celebrations, the Hawaii Avocado Festival and the Punahou Carnival. Expedia is offering a seven-night holiday in Hawaii from £903 per person based on two sharing, including a stay at the three-star Waikiki Resort Hotel and return flights from London Heathrow to Honolulu via Los Angeles departing 15 February 2012. Visit expedia.co.uk
With temperatures nearing an unbearable 50 degrees in summer, January and February are the ideal months to hit Dubai, when you can escape the cold UK weather and enjoy sunnier climes. If you're a shopaholic, the annual Dubai Shopping Festival takes place from 5 January until 5 February and music lovers should put 16 to 24 February in their diaries, as this is when the Skywards Jazz Festival takes place, with 2012's line-up including James Blunt, Jools Holland and Jason Mraz. Around the city, there's also some great golf clubs, stunning beaches and a buzzing nightlife scene. Holidaysplease offers a five-night stay at the Desert Palm Dubai from £967 per person departing 7 February, including flights from Heathrow and transfers. Visit holidaysplease.co.uk
Whether you're a beach bum or an adventure-seeker, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands is a great place to go in the UK winter months when it has warm weather. The end of January sees the 4 Stage Off Road Mountain Bike Race take place so if you're looking for an active break you can enjoy four days of cycling around the island. Other things to see and do include taking a wine tour, water sports and exploring the Timanfaya National Park. Stay at the three-bedroom Villa Oasis, which sleeps up to six people and is set in the village of Oasis de Nazaret with fantastic views of the countryside, mountains and sea. Visit vintagetravel.co.uk
Winter in Miami is truly exciting, with warm temperatures, vibrant nightlife and events like the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Go shopping in Miami Beach's Lincoln Road Mall, spend an afternoon people-watching on South Beach and get buff on the beach with volleyball and Frisbee. Virgin Holidays is offering a four-night break in Miami with departures between 20 and 29 February including direct flights from London Heathrow to Miami, accommodation at the 3V Days Hotel Thunderbird Beach Resort on a room-only basis and car hire from £649 per person. Visit virginholidays.co.uk
South Africa's Southern Cape offers exactly what most of us want in a February getaway - a dry, warm and lively atmosphere! The lovely weather makes the Winelands, beaches and Garden Route a treat, plus there's lots going on throughout the month including Cape Town Pride from 24 February, which is one of the world's most colourful pride festivals. The Knysna 300 bike race takes place along the Garden Route in February too, so you can cheer on the racers. From mid-January to mid-February you can also see a Shakespeare play at the open-air theatre, Maynardville. Expert Africa has a 15-day self-drive tour of the Cape, taking in Cape Town, the Winelands and the Garden Route from £2,203 per person in February 2012. The price includes flights, car hire, accommodation, transfers and route maps. Visit expertafrica.com
This winter saw Bulgaria revealed as 2012's best value ski destination and its resorts are not only cheaper than those in Switzerland and North America, they're more family-friendly too, making them perfect for taking the kids during February half-term. Bulgaria's top ski resorts Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo are ideal for beginners and intermediates, plus there are good value ski schools and easy nursery slopes. If you're not travelling with children but still want to go on a budget ski trip, go towards the end of February when half-term is over. Crystal Ski is offering seven nights in Bovorets's three-star Hotel Bor from 25 February 2012 including transfers, flights from Bristol and half board for £295 per person. Visit crystalski.co.uk
Patagonia in Chile is a treat at any time of year because of its abundance of activities but its warmest months are January and February when you can enjoy horse riding, kayaking and bird watching. The Torres del Paine National Park is one of South America's most beautiful parks with breathtaking scenery, dramatic walking trails and wildlife. The eagerly anticipated luxury Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa set within the park has just opened adding a new and exciting feature to the area. It has 40 rooms, a spa and serves delicious food, like lamb slow-cooked over coals. Sunvil Traveller is offering six nights in Patagonia including four nights full board at the Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa and two nights in Santiago including flights, private transfers and excursions from £3,829 per person. Visit sunvil.co.uk
There's no better time to go to the Italian city of Venice than in February. Not only is it the most romantic month of the year with Valentine's Day (so you can serenade your loved one on a gondola ride!) it's also when the exciting carnival takes place for Mardi Gras, with elaborate costumes and masks, dancing and balls. Travelsphere's Venice Carnival and the Grand Ball trip includes a gala dinner and cocktails at the Arlecchino Grand Ball, a guided tour of sights like St Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge's Palace, and of course, a gondola ride! The four-day break is from 19 February 2012 and costs from £917 per person including flights and accommodation. Visit travelsphere.co.uk