IT'S THE RICH WOT GETS THE SUNSHINE; While the rest of us have to put up with the rain and snow of the Great British winter, the stars look out their passports and start jetting off to work on their suntans.
LIFE'S a beach when you're a celebrity. It's that time of year when the excesses of festive feasting hit home and the very thought of slipping into a skimpy bikini fills most of us with dread.
For most of us, sun-kissed beaches and balmy tropical evenings will remain the stuff of dreams. But the rich and famous live out the fantasy.
Newlyweds Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie were first to flee the British winter this week as the annual celebrity getaway began.
In heavy rain, they were driven on to the tarmac at Luton Airport to board their private jet for New York, with Guy holding baby Rocco.
But while actress Amanda Holden and her TV star husband Les Dennis plan to beat the post-New Year depression with in America - Holden and Dennis are going to Las Vegas - Madonna and Guy are unlikely to settle on the States for their honeymoon. But George Michael and boyfriend Kenny Goss are happy enough to settle for the sun in California.
Like Chris Evans and Billie Piper, who have just returned from sunny Madeira, the newlyweds are likely to prefer a break in the sun.
They're in good company. Prince Andrew is currently soaking up the sun in a yacht off the coast of Phuket in Thailand. And Scary Spice Mel B is a big fan of the sun-kissed resort.
Armageddon actress Liv Tyler is with boyfriend Royston Langdon on St Barts. Dressed in a skimpy two-piece, the daughter of Aerosmith star Steve Tyler enjoyed the resort with her Yorkshireman.
The Caribbean's most stylish island resort is always popular, but this year it is a star magnet.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who posed on the tiny island for two calendars and chose it for an exercise video, can't get enough of St Barts. She and British ex-boyfriend Tim Jeffries, the Green Shields Stamp heir, got engaged there last year. Star Wars star Natalie Portman relaxed on the paradise isle during a break, as did catwalk queen Eva Herzigova.
Bad boy Bobby Brown smooched with his singer wife Whitney Houston in the surf as they celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary.
Queen of the Caribbean, however, has to be Liz Hurley. The face of cosmetics giant Estee Lauder sailed off the coast of St Barts with Henry Dent-Brocklehurst and his wife Lily.
The Bahamas still entice more celebrities than ever. Baby Spice Emma, who is due to marry her boyfriend Jade Jones this year, lazed on a beach by the lavish Ocean Club resort during a solo break in the Bahamas.
Also spotted in the glittering playground was a heavily-pregnant Celine Dion, who was relaxing in Nassau with husband Rene Angelil just five weeks before she is due to give birth.
The couple splashed out on a pounds 1100-a-night break in the Bahamas to celebrate Rene's recovery from skin cancer.
In Barbados, millionaire film director Michael Winner savoured the New Year sunshine on a beach near the exclusive Sandy Lane Hotel. Accompanying him were girlfriend Georgina Hristova and society girl Lady Victoria Hervey.
The Sandy Lane Hotel, a favourite with Spice Girls Mel C and Mel B - who fled there when her marriage to dancer Jimmy Gulzar hit the rocks last year - is renowned as the most top address in the Caribbean.
After 33 months of refurbishment, the hotel has reopened to "selected" guests, including Scots golfer Colin Montgomerie and rock star Chris Rea.
Will Carling's ex, Ali Cockayne, and her millionaire boyfriend David Ross and son Henry chose the five-star hotel for their New Year break. EastEnder Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell have been soaking up the sun in Barbados on their delayed honeymoon.
Avoiding the more obvious celebrity winter sun resorts this year are Robbie Williams and Geri Halliwell, who have shunned the sun for a winter break in Gstaad in Switzerland.
While Sir Elton John and boyfriend David Furnish flew to Hawaii with 36 matching pieces of designer luggage.
Chris Evans and teenage pop star Billie Piper decided to miss out on the snow and floods in Britain over the festive season by jetting off for a relaxing holiday in sunny Madeira
Baby Spice Emma, above, recently enjoyed a solo break at the lavish Ocean Club, while the heavily-pregnant singer Celine Dion, right, relaxed at the paradise resort of Nassau with her husband Rene Angelil, after his treatment for cancer
Among the rich and famous spotted playing around on the fashionable sands of this celebrity magnet have been Armageddon actress Liv Tyler, above, Whitney Houston, above right, and Star Wars star Natalie Portman, left
When the going gets tough, the rich and famous get going to the exclusive Sandy Lane Hotel on Barbados.
Millionaire film director Michael Winner, left, has been savouring the sunshine with Georgina Hristova and Lady Victoria Hervey during a New Year break. Also staying at the five-star resort are golfer Colin Montgomerie, left, rock star Chris Rea and Will Carling's ex, Ali Cockayne. EastEnder Barbara Windsor, far left, and her toyboy husband Scott Mitchell also opted for Barbados as the destination for their belated honeymoon.
Prince Andrew, above, surrounded himself with a bevy of beauties as he relaxed on a yacht off Freedom Beach. Last year Scary Spice Mel B, right, headed for Thailand with a group of friends as she nursed a broken heart.
Sir Elton John and boyfriend David Furnish, right, jetted out to Hawaii this week. The paradise island is also a favourite of tennis stars Andre Agassi and girlfriend Steffi Graff, above, who played out their mixed doubles there last year.