By Angela Rees
As the cold continues to bite the UK, more than a million sun-starved Britons are set to pack their bags to escape the miserable weather this Easter.
Around 1.7 million people have snapped up last-minute deals for holidays abroad to get away from one of the coldest March periods on record.
The Canary Islands, Majorca, Tunisia, Greece, Egypt and Turkey are just some of the hotspots that the getaway crowd are expected to flock to in order to get a bit of much-needed sun.
Elsewhere, top city break destinations are Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York, while France and Austria are the most-popular countries for skiers.
Travel organisation the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said a total of 600,000 travellers will leave from Heathrow airport between Thursday and Tuesday, while 110,000 will fly from Manchester, 110,000 from Stansted and 55,000 from Luton. Scottish airports will see more than 100,000 departures.
Around 214,000 passengers will travel from Gatwick, with Barcelona, Geneva and the southern Spanish city of Malaga named as the top destinations.
British Airways said 98,000 passengers are due to jet off on its planes on Thursday, with the most popular long-haul destinations being New York, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Abta's chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many Brits are desperate for some sunshine. We've seen a surge in last-minute bookings to warm destinations and ski lovers are also in for a treat with some of the best snow conditions seen for years."
Those not heading overseas will have a welcome respite from roadworks as the Highways Agency said it has completed more than 600 miles of works in time for Easter, while a further 90 miles of works will be suspended over the bank holiday weekend.
However, a number of roadworks will still be in place, including a section of the M1 near Milton Keynes, as well as a part of the M4 near Reading.