The first heavy snowfall of the season looks set to bring travel disruption in the run-up to Christmas, according to the Met Office.
A yellow weather warning for ice and snow has been issued for large parts of Scotland and northern England on Saturday and Sunday, and cold weather, strong winds and heavy rain are expected across the rest of the country.
Temperatures on Friday night will get as low as -3C across much of the country and in the daytime they are not expected to rise much above 2C, the forecaster predicted.
The Met Office’s chief meteorologist Steve Willington said: “This weekend’s weather brings a range of winter hazards, with the possibility of heavy snow and blizzards in parts of Scotland and freezing rain for northern parts of the UK.
“As such, there is the potential for disruption to travel on the roads and possible delays or cancellations to public transport services, so we encourage people to keep an eye on the latest weather forecast warnings and to take care when travelling.”
The heaviest snow is currently expected over higher ground in Scotland, with the chance of drifting due to strong winds.
Willington added: “Snow is also expected to settle at lower levels in Scotland and parts of northern England, with the risk of freezing rain and ice on Saturday night.”
On higher ground there could be between 10cm and 20cm of snow, with 40cm falling on the highest peaks in Scotland.
At lower levels there will be up to 5cm of snow in parts of Scotland and northern England.
Snow in the rest of the country is “not out of the question”, according to meteorologist Sophie Yeomans, and if temperatures go lower than is forecast there could also be snow further south.
The cold weather will be caused by an active low-pressure system moving in from the Atlantic on Friday night.
However, the cold weather is not expected to stick around for long, with temperatures expected to get back up to a mild 8-9C at the beginning of next week.
Thursday night will see the annual Geminid meteor shower appear in the skies and visibility is expected to be good.
There will be clear skies across most of the country, however eastern areas of England and Scotland will be slightly cloudier.
However, skies should clear periodically, meaning it should still be visible at some points of the night in eastern areas, the Met Office said.
At its peak, people should be able to see more than 50 shooting stars per hour originating from an asteroid, it added.