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The final bank holiday weekend of the summer will see millions of Britons taking to the roads from tonight.
Despite a dreary weather forecast, huge numbers will brave traffic jams and roadworks to escape to the country or coast.
Almost 29 million Britons are expected to take a car journey of more than an hour over the long weekend, with one in five travelling for more than four hours.
Seventeen music festivals will add to the congestion. Reading and Leeds festivals are each likely to attract 70,000 music fans while Creamfields in Daresbury, Cheshire, is expected to be attended by 40,000.
Likely congestion hotspots include all the motorways encircling London, the M6 in the Midlands and north-west, the M1 in the East Midlands and the A1 in Yorkshire. Routes to the West Country, Dorset, the Lake District and Blackpool are all expected to be deluged with traffic
Up to 25% of intending travellers will take today off work to avoid the queues.
The RAC said that major routes were likely to start getting particularly busy early this afternoon, with Monday evening and Tuesday morning also expected to be busy.
In London, tube travellers also face disruption, with upgrading work causing a shutdown of the Victoria line on Saturday and Sunday.
Weather forecasters say the weekend will feature outbreaks of rain across much of England and Wales – but slightly drier conditions are expected by the middle of next week.
But with many schools not returning until the week beginning 6 September, the more staggered return should ease the pressure on the roads.
Many people are planning to escape the UK’s gloom, with Heathrow set to handle 840,000 passengers. Among the most popular destinations are New York, Dubai, Paris and Dublin.
>About 285,000 travellers are expected to pass through Manchester airport during the same period.
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