ABTA estimates that 4.25 million Britons will be heading overseas this Christmas and New Year period [16 December – 3 January], compared to just under 4 million twelve months ago, with the peak travel days predicted to be 22 and 23 December.

Christmas and New Year is traditionally one of the peak getaway periods, this year sees an increase in the number of people looking to get away to relax and have fun with loved ones.

Many are looking for a traditional white Christmas experience and despite a dry start to the season, much welcome snow has begun to fall in Europe. Ski resorts in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy have all sold well with the week around the New Year traditionally the busiest of the season. Many lucky children are having the ultimate early Christmas present, a trip to Lapland to see Father Christmas and the Northern Lights, which are predicted to be especially active this winter due to increased solar activity.

For many however, sun is the priority, and travel companies are reporting they will be heading to destinations such as the Canary Islands, Cuba the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Other lucky travellers will be flying south to Australia and New Zealand for Christmas and New Year on the beach.

Others will also be enjoying the beautiful wintery UK scenes staying in country hotels and cottages.

Popular for New Year’s Eve breaks are the cities of Paris, Reykjavik, Rome, Dublin and New York.

Millions of people will be leaving the country through the major airports, which include Heathrow where 1.7 million will be leaving, Stansted 425,000, Gatwick 750,000, Luton 210,000 and Glasgow 120,000. In addition 340,000 will leave from Manchester, 165,000 from Birmingham and 120,000 from Glasgow.

In addition many hundreds of thousands will travel across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “Christmas and the New Year are amongst the busiest times of the year for the travel industry and I am delighted that millions of our customers are taking advantage of time off. With all the doom and gloom of the economy it looks like people are keen to escape for a break, whether they are visiting friends and family or looking to enjoy winter sun or guaranteed snow.”

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