Arctic blast to last through March as bookies slash odds on white Easter

Arctic blast to last through March as bookies slash odds on white Easter

It might be time to book that Easter getaway as early reports suggest we could be facing the coldest Bank Holiday on record.

And more snow could bring travel chaos for anyone planning a UK break.

According to the Daily Mail, bookies have even cut the odds of a white Easter to 2-1, and are offering 8-1 on it being the coldest ever, with no sign the recent freezing conditions will improve throughout March.

Temperatures fell as low as -8C in Aviemore and Braemar in Scotland on Monday and will not reach more than 5C across the country before the weekend.

And drivers in Bournemouth, Dorset, were treated to a magical winter wonderland display of icicles on their morning commute on Tuesday (pictured) after weekend temps dropped to -4C.

Leon Brown, meteorologist at The Weather Channel, said we may see a short burst of sun towards the end of the week, however. He told Aol Travel: "We should see clearer weather feed south on Wednesday to the Midlands and then finally all of southern Britain should enjoy clearer skies for a change on Thursday. However, it does mean a rather frosty start to the day, but at least temperatures lifting to 8C in the south and 10 to 11C over NW England and southern Scotland.

"Unfortunately it isn't looking so good for Friday (1st March and first day of Spring meteorologically) with another grey and overcast day for central and southern areas and temperatures only 5C or 6C at best. (Normal should be nearer 10C).

"It may take until Saturday evening for the cloud to clear from the south but central Britain and Wales should see plenty of sunshine. With high pressure over the UK this weekend a sharp frost is likely by Sunday morning with freezing fog. Temperatures perhaps down to -4C in Wales and southern England on Sunday morning."

He added: "It looks like March 2013 will be similar in some respects to 2012 in that it will be dry, but a lot colder. March 2012 was dominated by high pressure and was very dry with less than 50% of normal precipitation, and March 2011 was also very dry with nearer 30% of normal precipitation making it the driest since 1990. March 2012 was also warm and sunny with record temperatures in Scotland reaching 23.6C on 27th in Aboyne. In contrast, March this year looks like it may be a little colder than average, but may be quite dry like the previous two years, especially in the north with high pressure dominating.

"The first part of March 2013 is expected to see high pressure to the north of the UK and low pressure over Scandinavia with colder northerly winds feeding southwards and veering to an easterly over the south of the UK ahead of areas of low pressure approaching the SW.

"The easterly flow over the UK will keep temperatures below normal coming off a rather cold North Sea. Sea temperatures in the North Sea are now between 1C and 3C below normal which will have quite a cooling impact on early spring weather unless we get a south or southwesterly flow. Iberia and France will see above normal temperatures for a time in early March, but also very wet weather, especially Portugal and NW Spain."

Leon also confirmed reports that the February freeze could set records, explaining: "February looks like it will be the coldest since 1996 in most parts of the country. Low daytime temperatures making up a large part of the anomaly over the south where it has been cloudy while the north has seen colder night time temperatures but near average by day in the sunshine."

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Arctic blast to last through March as bookies slash odds on white Easter

The famous White House Egg Roll may only be open to American travellers but there are plenty of alternative Easter egg hunts in Washington DC. Madame Tussauds has more than 1,000 eggs hidden in the Presidents Gallery and Tudor Palace's Eggstravaganza promises a thrilling Egg Roll Contest and spring basket building. From 20 March to 14 April, DC also celebrates bright colours and lighter evenings at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, with musical and stage performances and the blossoming of more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees given to the city by Japan in 1912.

There's plenty to see and do in Spain during the Easter holidays - and it's a great time to soak up the sunshine. In Valencia, you'll find all sorts of festivities, such the Procession of the Palm Leaves, the Procession of the Holy Burial and the Procession of the Resurrection during Holy Week. Extremadura in south west Spain sees costume parades, ornate floats and dancing in the streets on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The whole island of Tenerife celebrates Holy Week with various processions and you can enjoy whale watching and lazy days on the beach.

Fancy a traditional Easter of chocolate egg hunts? Cadbury and the National Trust have teamed up for Easter weekend to offer families fun Easter Egg Trails at 250 special National Trust properties throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There'll be activities including Design Your Own Egg Head, giant snakes and ladders, sack races and face painting, plus each trail will be unique to its location. New for this year, is the traditional egg and spoon race that you can take part in at select locations. Visit

For somewhere completely off the tourist radar and in a beautiful corner of Asia little-known to British travellers, Bhutan offers an enchanting, peaceful and happy holiday during Easter. The colourful Talo Tshechu, from 31 March to 2 April, is a three-day festival in Punakha known for its masks and Atsara dances. The lively Zhemgang Tshechu in Zhemgang also takes place at this time, giving you another reason to visit Bhutan in spring. With warm, clear weather and a variety of festivals, it's the perfect time to experience the local culture and celebrations.

Who needs chocolate eggs when Easter in Kyoto marks peak cherry blossom viewing time? Visit this beautiful part of Japan to see the weeping cherry blossoms in bloom at Jingu Shrine, one of Kyoto's most famous and romantic spots for the annual ritual. Other wonderful events include Kyoto Antique Fair at Pulse Plaza from 29 to 31 March with more than 350 antique dealers, the Saga Dai Nenbutsu Kyogen silent play at Seiryo-ji Temple on 31 March and 6 to 7 April, and the special spring opening of the Kyoto Imperial Palace from 3 to 7 April.

Easter or Pasqua in Italy is one of the biggest holidays of the year. While you won't find the Easter bunny here, there are colourful displays of chocolate eggs in shop windows and plenty of events. Foodies can taste Easter Colomba (dove) cake and try seasonal dishes, like young lamb and artichokes. Rome is the centre of Italy's Easter celebrations with the Pope's Via Crucis procession and a whole host of other activities involving the Pope and the Vatican. In Sicily, the Procession of the Mysteries lasts almost 24 hours with a magnificent parade through Trapani. Sorrento's torch-lit procession is led by men dressed in hooded robes and in Florence the Explosion of the Cart sees an elaborate wagon pulled through the streets by white oxen before a spectacular fireworks display in Piazza del Duomo.

It's around this time of year that France begins to wake up and if you head south you'll get lovely warm sunshine without the crowds. Head for Hyeres for for enjoy biking and walking, or Cannes for its Shopping Festival and swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea. And if it's a traditional Easter with a twist you're after, Gouffre de Padirac in the Midi-Pyrenees region sees hundreds of chocolate eggs hidden in a path 103 metres underground, with lakes and an unusual atmosphere to explore.

The Caribbean can be a good choice for Easter: it is the end of the peak season and the weather is still lovely. Head for St Vincent and the Grenadines, where the largest island, Bequia, hosts the lively Bequia Easter Regatta from 28 March to 1 April, with four days of boat racing, live music, entertainment and authentic Vincentian cuisine. It's the biggest regatta in the Southern Caribbean and sees the harbour packed with yachts from around the world and a series of races.

Thanks to Portugal's strong religious heritage and delightful spring weather, Easter means plenty of cultural festivals across the country. During Holy Week, Braga hosts lively processions, such as the burrinha (donkey) parade. In the Algarve, the streets of Sao Bras de Alportel are filled with flowers and flaming torches on Easter Sunday and you can sample the desserts and sweets of the season. The region's Folar Fairs offer music and entertainment, plus the chance to try folar cakes - Easter cakes with hard boiled eggs (complete with shells) on top!

We all know the Easter bunny - but ever heard of the Easter witch? For an unusual Easter holiday head to Stockholm and enjoy traditional Swedish celebrations. On Maundy Thursday, children dress up as colourful witches to deliver Easter letters and receive sweets. It is said that witches flew off to dance with the devil on the Blåkulla (Blue Mountain) at this time of year. At Skansen, Sweden's oldest open-air museum, kids can make their own witch brooms and pretend they're taking off for Blåkulla.

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