Sleet and snow hit the north of England, the Midlands and Scotland and the Met Office has warned that nearly all the UK has been gripped by ice.
The freezing weather has brought treacherous conditions to roads, with many motorists in Sheffield forced to abandon their cars after becoming snowed in.
Many drivers became marooned by heavy snow in Sheffield, Chesterfield and the Peak District.
And a coach load of passengers was forced to take refuge in a church.
A spokesman for the RAC said drivers in these areas were experiencing “big problems”.
He said: “We are rescuing people who are bogged down in snow there. That seems to be the biggest area of problems in the UK. We are seeing higher volumes of calls than we would usually get on a Saturday this time of year.
“Some motorists are abandoning their vehicles.”
Drivers took to Twitter to complain of the long queues and post pictures of roads blanketed in heavy snow.
At around 2.30am one driver said he had been in a queue for more than four hours.
Declan Pitts posted a picture of a snowy country road and wrote: “I’m alive after 3 hours of crazy snow torn driving across what seems like the whole of England.”
A coachload of people travelling from Sheffield to London had to take refuge in a church after their bus became stuck in the snow before leaving the city, passenger Chloe McIntosh told the BBC.
She said: “Some people from the houses nearby have come and offered us tea. Then they opened up the church.”
The stranded coach passengers spent the night at Our Lady and St Thomas Church in Sheffield after getting stuck on the steep A61 heading south out of the city at about 7pm.
They finally resumed their journey at about 5.45am.
Parishioner Gemma Cort, 44, said local children were helping drivers by pushing cars up the slope when they spotted the coach.
When they realised one of the 30 or so passengers was pregnant, it was suggested they open the church so travellers could have a hot drink and use the toilet.
With the church’s new heating system working well, the coach passengers were kept warm and some were able to doze in comfy chairs under blankets and duvets provided by parishioners.
Mrs Cort, a mother-of-four, said: “The coach couldn’t move for the rest of the evening so we made bits of food and the children took them a load of toast and we made lots of tea.
“The police came about 11pm and there were a few more cars stuck then so they asked if they could send a few more people in.
“The plough and the gritter came and a lot more people could move then but the coach could not.
“The passengers were lovely, they were really grateful and couldn’t thank us enough and we got some donations which we will put towards the new heating system.”
Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport and Leeds Bradford International were forced to close last night as snow was cleared from the runways, but have now reopened.
More than 100,000 homes were left with power shortages as heavy snow wreaked havoc on electricity cables.
A Western Power Distribution spokesman said 36,000 customers were left without power and another 69,000 had short interruptions to supplies.
Staff worked through the night to reconnect customers, but around 3,000 in the East Midlands were still affected.
The north of England and the Midlands were the worst affected by the snowstorms, with 11cm (4.3in) falling in Leek, Staffordshire.
Nottinghamshire and Bingley, near Bradford, were hit by flurries of up to 7cm (2.8in).
Motorists have been advised to check routes before embarking on a journey and to avoid travelling in snow-hit areas if possible.
Four flights into Liverpool from Malta, Berlin and Bucharest were diverted to Manchester Airport, while a fifth from the Isle of Man returned to the island’s airport, a John Lennon Airport spokesman said.
Police warned of hazardous conditions last night, especially in Staffordshire and Cheshire, with several roads impassable.
Staffordshire Police tweeted: “Reports of difficult road conditions across Staffordshire due to snow, please only travel tonight if necessary.”
Cheshire Police said: “Roads around Delamere/Frodsham looking quite treacherous due to weather, please drive with care.”
Leicestershire Police tweeted: “Snow causing disruption in the north of the county. Please only travel if absolutely necessary and avoid A1 as large vehicles are stuck.”
The Met Office has issued amber warnings for snow, ice and wind across much of Britain.
A Met Office spokesman said another 1cm-2cm of snow could fall on higher ground in the Pennines, Yorkshire Moors, East of England and west of England as wintry showers pass through the country.
He added: “The worst of the snow has passed through. There is quite a bit of ice, especially over the higher ground in the north of England.
“Overnight tonight ice is going to be more of a problem.”
The snow made conditions difficult for some of yesterday’s football matches, including in the West Midlands as West Bromwich Albion lost 3-1 to Manchester City in a game played in a blizzard at The Hawthorns.
The Met Office had earlier said there was a 90% chance of severe cold, ice or snow in parts of England between this afternoon and New Year’s Eve.
Christmas night was the coldest night of the year so far, with minus 8.5C (16.7F) recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire.
Temperatures could drop as low as minus 10C (14F) in some places at the start of next week as the cloud and wet weather gives way to clearer skies.
A spokesman for Leeds Bradford International Airport said four flights into the airport had to be diverted and two outbound flights cancelled last night due to the snow, affecting nearly 1,000 passengers.
The airport reopened at 12.30am, and while there were some delays early this morning flights are back to normal, a spokesman said.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “As winter weather grips some areas of the country we would advise people intending to travel to check weather and local conditions before they set out.
“The Highways Agency and local highway authorities across the country are working hard to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.
“Passengers travelling into or out of Kings Cross affected by overrunning engineering work should check with National Rail enquiries for service information.”