Britons experienced the hottest day of the year so far on Saturday, and the hottest Easter bank holiday weekend for 70 years, as the temperature hit 25.5C (77.9F) in Gosport in Hampshire.
The temperature is expected to rise even further on Monday to 27C, making the sunniest spots in the UK warmer than most of Europe, Algeria and Morocco.
The record for Easter weather was set on Easter Sunday in 1949, when a temperature of 29.4C was recorded in Camden Square, north London.
In central London, people were enjoying the sunshine.
“It’s gorgeous when it’s like this, I’m just going to watch them run around,” said Niamh Collins, whose two boys, aged four and seven, were preoccupied with water guns in a square filled with families on Saturday.
On Regent’s Canal, Chloe and Delilah, both 16, were sunbathing. Theysaid they were trying to enjoy the afternoon despite having revision to do.
“We’ve got our [GCSE] exams starting in two weeks,” said Chloe. “It’s so stress, but it’s hard to concentrate when it’s like this and I want a tan. Look how pale my legs are!”
Marco Petagna, a Met Office spokesman, said it could be a record-breaking Easter Sunday and Monday. “Solent saw temperatures of 25.3C and 24C in 2011, but there’s a strong chance that southern England over the next two days will exceed that,” he said.
He cited high pressure and south-easterly winds drawing in warm weather from the continent as the reason for the sunny spell. “Three days of weather over 25C constitutes a heatwave,” he said on Saturday. “We expect it will break on Tuesday but it will be glorious throughout the weekend.”
Supermarkets reported a surge of sales in sausages, burgers, ice lollies and ice-creams. Sainsbury’s said it expected sales of rosé wine to jump by 40%, fake tan to climb by 300% and sun cream by 800% compared with last week.
According to Airbnb, the seaside town of Scarborough in North Yorkshire was trending as the UK’s top weekend holiday spot this Easter.
John Porter, visitor officer at the RNLI Scarborough lifeboat station, said: “It’s certainly a day for the beach – it’s the busiest it’s been here all year. People are here in cossies, bikinis, children are paddling and making sandcastles. It’s a hot day.”
There were big queues, he said, for restaurants and ice-cream parlours.
While sunshine and blue skies were being enjoyed across Britain, the warm temperatures were less welcome for people with hayfever, who were told of “a deadly pollen bomb”, triggered by high pollen counts which could put some sufferers at risk.