Get ready for the Big Freeze in the UK. The relatively balmy autumn and golden scenes across the British landscape are set to give way to cold temperatures, snow and freezing winds as an 'Arctic plunge' sweeps in from the North Pole next week.
Morning temperatures could drop to -3C in southern Britain, with day temperatures struggling to reach over 4C.
While parts of Cumbria and Durham have already experienced up to 3in of snow, it will now spread to other parts of the country.
Leon Brown, meteorologist at The Weather Channel, told Aol Travel: "There's a fairly high confidence that next week will become a lot colder
"An Arctic plunge from next Tuesday will see snow showers over northern Scotland. The Grampians and Cairngorms in north east Scotland may see 10cm or more by Tuesday morning.
"We will then be watching another low pressure system that is expected to track southwards next Wednesday that may bring sleet and hill snow across Wales and much of central Britain, even higher ground in the south west is at risk.
"This will then be followed by frosty and icy weather for Thursday and Friday.
"Maximum daytime temperatures by next Tuesday only 4C or 5C in central and southern Britain and 1C to 3C in the north
"Next Wednesday morning temperatures may fall to -3C in the south and -8C in Scotland, with similar low temperatures on Thursday and Friday morning too."
Winter weather around the world
'Arctic plunge' to bring snow, frost and freezing winds to UK next week
People throw snow balls near the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Piazza dei Miracoli covered with snow in December 2010 in Pisa, Italy.
Japanese macaque, commonly referred to as 'snow monkeys', react next to an open-air hot spring bath, or 'onsen' at the Jigokudani (Hell's Valley) Monkey Park in the town of Yamanouchi in Nagano prefecture, Japan in December 2012. Some 160 of the monkeys inhabit the area and are a popular tourist draw.
Autumn and winter collide as a snow storm moves into the Colorado mountains near Idaho Springs, USA in October 2013. The mountain could see up to a foot of snow from the storm.
Snow-covered Paris still attracts window shoppers as a heavy December snow blankets the French city.
Spending christmas in Finland, Kai Kubierske from Bonn in Germany gets out after swimming in a hole made in the ice at the Gulf of Finland in December 2012 in Lauttasaari, Helsinki.
People enjoy the winter weather on a beach in Biarritz, southwestern France in December 2012 as the temperature reached 22 C.
Friends enjoy sledging on Brecon Beacons, Wales, where snow settled in January 2012.
Deer in the snow at Whitworth Hall Country Park, County Durham as the winter weather continued across the UK in January 2013.
People make their way along the Great Wall of China at Badaling north of Beijing following a night of snowfall in February 2010. A blanket of snow whitened Tiananmen Square and northern sections of the Great Wall overnight in the latest round of freezing weather during the often bitter Chinese winter.
A father and his son slide over snow at the Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in December 2010.
A man runs across the Brooklyn Bridge following a major winter storm in February 2013 in New York City, USA.
Alaskan Huskies eagerly howl at Villmarkssenter wilderness centre on Kvaloya Island, Tromso in Arctic Circle Northern Norway.
The Aurora Borealis over Fjord Grundarfjorour in February 2011 in Snaefellsnes, Iceland. The incredible aurora image may fool you into thinking they were taken in broad daylight. Kerstin Langenberger spent 300 hours chasing The Aurora Borealis by full moon to capture this rarely seen image.
A man shovels snow near the giant icicles on a rock in central Tbilisi, Georgia in February 2012. The temperatures in Georgia's capital dropped to -6C.
A couple climb onto a Soviet era monument dedicated to the Russia and Ukraine union in Kiev, Ukraine in February 2012.
Tourists walk through Voskresenskiye (Resurrection) Gates as they leave the Red Square in Moscow, Russia in March 2013, with landmark St.Basil's cathedral rising in the background.
People walk on Galata Bridge covered with snow in Istanbul, Turkey in January 2013.
Families enjoy the snow in the Stormont estate in Belfast.
Sheep grazing in deep snow in a field outside Dunleer, Co Meath, Ireland.
A couple walks on the snow-covered Strandbad Wannsee beach during its opening for the year in March 2013 in Berlin, Germany.
The sculpture Cloud Gate, commonly known as 'The Bean', is covered in snow in March 2013 in Chicago, USA.
A Palestinian man walks near palm trees as snow falls in Jerusalem's old city in January 2013. Jerusalem was transformed into a winter wonderland after heavy overnight snowfall turned the Holy City and much of the region white, bringing hordes of excited children onto the streets.
The Cibeles statue stands covered in snow and ice after snowfall in Madrid in January 2010.
Snow covers typical Dutch scenery in the centre of Amsterdam, Netherlands in February 2012.
Richard and Samantha Stretton from Newcastle enjoy a walk at the Angel of the North in Gateshead, UK after heavy snowfall.
A woman walks on the snow covered beach in Palma, Mallorca in Spain in February 2012.
Boats are seen trapped on the frozen lake of Kastoria town in northwestern Greece in February 2012.
Bathers enjoy naturally warmed spa water as they relax in the rooftop pool of the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain's only natural thermal spa, in Bath, England surrounded by winter snow.
The biggest Hungarian icebreaker for rivers, the 40-metre-long Szechenyi, navigates through the ice-covered waters of the Danube River nearby the parliament building in Budapest in February 2012.
The snow covered fields and villages in the Bhaderwah Valley, around 200km east of Jammu, India in December 2012.
20-year-old women dressed in kimono walk on a snow covered street to attend a coming-of-age ceremony in Tokyo in January 2013.
A young Bennet kangaroo sits in the pouch of its mother in the zoo in Stralsund, northern Germany in March 2013.
Snow and ice settle in at the base of Niagara Falls in Canada, where the largest ice bridge in two years has formed under the transforming touch of winter.
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Where to go in December
'Arctic plunge' to bring snow, frost and freezing winds to UK next week
Why go? Direct flights from the UK now make it an easy hop across the Atlantic to this palm-fringed island, which boasts 300 beaches. Antigua has a rich colonial heritage, too, best explored at the carefully preserved 19th-century naval complex at Nelson’s Dockyard at English Harbour. While you're there, don't miss the views from Shirley Heights (pictured), for spectacular views across to the neighbouring island of Montserrat.
Try this:Western & Oriental is offering seven nights at Nonsuch Bay from £1,125 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick, private transfers and accommodation in a one-bedroom apartment.
This Indian Ocean island has a formidable reputation for great service wherever you go. Its white-sand beaches, sparkling in the heat in December, are hard to leave, yet there’s so much more to see. This island was an important trading post for merchants - and pirates - over the centuries and the influence of a league of nations lives on, from the bustling streets of Chinatown, in the capital Port Louis, to the serene shores of the sacred Hindu lake Grand Bassin.
Try this: Turquoise Holidays is offering seven nights at Shanti Maurice from £1,730 per person, based on two sharing, a saving of £1,680 per couple, including return flights from Heathrow, transfers, and half-board in a Junior Ocean View Suite. Valid until 22 December.
This is the start of gorilla-watching season in Uganda. It’s easier to make the difficult trek through the mountains to see these friendly giants now that the rains have abated (though still pack waterproofs, you’re heading into serious jungle). Deep in the Bwindi National Park - part of the Impenetrable Forest - discover the home of half the world’s endangered mountain gorillas that still live in the wild. They number barely more than 300. Watch in awe.
The Exceptional Travel Company () is offering the seven-day Uganda Safari - Gorillas, Wildlife & Chimps for £3,575 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow to Kampala, transfers, accommodation including four nights at the Volcanoes Lodge, the services of an expert guide, fees and permits, and a $100 contribution to the Volcanoes Partnership Trust.
Think Canaries, think bring on the Full English? Think again. Lanzarote, an island of brooding volcanoes, has managed to contain its tourist development, allowing its natural beauty to break through. Black volcanic fields, deep green cacti, whitewashed cottages: it’s a landscape to gladden the cool designer’s eye. This may be the beginning of the rainy season but don't let that put you off! The island experiences less than 20 days of rain in an entire year. Stick to the south for warm sunny days on the beach. Don't miss the intriguing sculptures of feted local artist César Manrique, on display around the island. And raise a glass to the excellent local wine produced here, too.
Try this:Lanzarote Retreats offers eco-friendly accommodation at its complex of yurts at Finca de Arrieta. Prices from €110 per yurt per night. Return flights are available from a number of airports UK-wide with a variety of airlines, including Ryanair and Easyjet, from around £70.
Away from the fleshpots of Bangkok, Thai life is still rooted in the calm backwater atmosphere of the farming village and fishing community. Among its sights are some of the most stupendous Buddhist shrines - the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho is an awesome 15 metres high and 43 metres in length. Thailand's rainy season has passed, but keep to the west coast this month for the best weather.
Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk) is offering seven nights on Phuket from £1,199 per person, based on two sharing, a saving of up to £713 per couple, including return flights from Heathrow with Thai Airways and B&B at Angsana Laguna. Quote FE351.
Get away with friends and family to a self-catering cottage this Christmas or New Year. Prices rise for this sought-after slot in the annual calendar, but the rewards of neutral space - everyone chipping in with the cooking and clearing up - has got to be a serious bonus. Most cottage companies will do the job of decorating the property festively, too.
Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire (coastalcottages.co.uk) has properties sleeping two to 12 in its collection. Family-sized Ty Isaf, for example, a stone house in the village of Mathry with countryside views and a local pub in walking distance. It sleeps six in three bedrooms, has a large sitting room, kitchen-diner with farmhouse table for the big dinner on the day, and is kept cosy courtesy of a woodburner (and full central heating). Price £745 for seven nights from 21 December. For New Year, try Lavender Cottage in Sutton Poyntz, Dorset, through Blue Chip Holidays (bluechipholidays.co.uk). A Christmas tree, mulled wine and mince pies will be laid on at this three-bedroom cottage sleeping six. And with two living rooms, there’s plenty of space to make use of its flatscreen 3D TV, PlayStation 3 and Wii without any arguments. Available for a week from 28 December for £972.
Leave your cynical side at home and fill up on Christmas cheer on a heart-warming pilgrimage to the icy north. A fun family trip to Lapland is a must-do on life’s bucket list. Go husky riding through the snow, pet reindeer, and meet Father Christmas and his army of elves as they prepare for the big day.
Activities Abroad (activitiesabroad.com) is offering a four-night trip, titled Ranua - Polar Bears and Father Christmas, from £1,495 per adult and £1,295 for children aged 5 to 12 years, including return flights from Heathrow to Rovaniemi via Helsinki, transfers, full-board accommodation, all activities - including a husky safari, meeting Father Christmas and his reindeer, and breakfast with a polar bear - cold-weather clothing and guides.
Get there before the footie fans - everyone is talking about this South American city with the FIFA World Cup just around the corner. And December is a great time to go with eight hours of sunshine a day and highs of 30C. Scale the heights of Sugar Loaf mountain, take a helicopter ride around the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, sashay along the streets with the girls in Ipanema, even take a guided tour of the favelas. The landscape, the people - you’ll never forget your visit to this Brazilian city.
Real World Holidays (realworldholidays.co.uk) offer a 12-night Samba Special with five nights in Rio and a week on the beach in Buzios for £1,995 per person, based on two sharing, between 15 November and 7 December, rising to £2,250 until 15 December. The deal includes return flights from Heathrow, transfers and transport, B&B, tours, guides and entrance fees.
ki slopes across Europe open for business in December. But if you’re heading to the mountains early in the month, the snow-sure resorts to consider include Val d’Isère (pictured), Tignes, Val Thorens in France, Cervinia in Italy, Saas-Fee and Andermatt in Switzerland, Obergurgl, Ischgl, Lech, Zürs, Sölden and Hintertux in Austria.
Inghams (inghams.co.uk) is offering seven nights at Chalet Les Dolomites in Val d’Isère from £499 per person, based on two sharing, a saving of £100 per person, including return flights from Gatwick to Geneva, transfers, and catered accommodation. Departs 7 December.
Nowhere does a Christmas market quite like Germany. And Munich’s main one (there are 20 in the city in total) is a splendid example. Wooden huts cluster on the Marienplatz, in the shadow of the ornate town hall, a tradition dating back to the 14th Century. Shoppers sip mulled wine as they browse the displays of traditional Bavarian gifts such as wooden figurines and glassware, gingerbread and candy to the strains of the musicians playing festive tunes on the balcony of the ornate town hall that provides a magnificent backdrop. Check out the Kripperlmarkt, too, one of the largest in Germany specialising in accessories for nativity cribs.
Fred.\ (fredholidays.co.uk) offers two nights in Munich from £269 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick, transfers and B&B at the Creatif Hotel Elephant.