More than 4.5 million UK consumers are forecast to take a winter holiday with those seeking sun destinations up 3% on last year.

Almost a third (31%) will be escaping abroad to find warmer weather, according to new research released by Abta today.

More than half (60%) of holidaymakers have booked a package trip because it was the best option for the price, up 3% on the previous year.

The results come as forecasters warn of an increased likelihood of cold weather towards the end of this month and into February, amid media speculation about a possible return of the ‘Beast from the East’ weather system, which hit the UK last winter with freezing temperatures and heavy snow.

The Canary Islands remain the top winter sun destination, with Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria all ranking strongly for bookings.

Cape Verde, Turkey and Egypt are also proving popular, while Jamaica and Mexico are the pick of the long-haul destinations.

Abta brand and business development director Victoria Bacon said: “As the British winter weather takes hold and the temperature drops, holidaymakers are seizing the opportunity to make an escape to warmer climes.

“This year is no exception with even more people saying they’ll travel abroad for a fix of winter sun.

“If you’re still looking to book a winter break there are plenty of options available, speak to an Abta member who can help you choose the best places for a winter sun break and find a holiday which best suits your needs.”