Who needs snow to celebrate the holidays?

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Judith Salkin

The annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade draws more than 100,000 viewers. It will be held on Dec. 5.
Photo by David A. Lee

Just because we don’t get a dusting of fresh snow, it doesn’t mean that the desert lacks holiday spirit. Starting at the beginning of December, cities of the Coachella Valley offer a wide variety of family-centric events that include parades, a festival and tours of holiday decorations.

Three free events that have become iconic in the valley — the Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade, the International Tamale Festival in Indio and Walk of the Inns in Palm Springs — land in the first half of the month.

Let’s take a quick look at each event:

24th annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade

When: 5:45 p.m. Sat., Dec. 5

Where: Palm Canyon Drive, Ramon Road to Tamarisk Road, Palm Springs

Information: psfesitvaloflights.com,  (760) 323-8276

What started out as a small community parade in 1992 now draws crowds in excess of 100,000 viewers.

 “We have people who come in for the parade from Orange County, San Diego and Los Angeles,” said Amy Blaisdell, Palm Springs Communications Director. “We also get a lot of guests from Banning, Beaumont and the Inland Empire.”

 The crowds line Palm Canyon Drive to see the floats, walking groups and bands that that are decked in strands of twinkling lights. Another draw, said Blaisdell, is the parade’s Grand Marshall, and this year it’s skateboarding pro Tony Hawk. “We’re expecting that he’ll be a big draw with kids.”

24th annual Indio International Tamale Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat. and Sun., Dec. 5 and 6

Where: Towne and Smurr Streets, between Miles and Requa Avenues, Indio

Information: tamalefest.net

The Food Network named the Indio International Tamale Festival to its Top 10 list of “All American Food Festivals.” If you love the little packages of masa and fillings wrapped in corn husks, this is the festival for you.

A Coachella Valley traditional since 1992, the festival offers more than vendors of sweet and savory tamales. Entertainment will include the Kumbia Kings, a petting zoo, children’s activities, carnival games, live music, dancing shows, a beer garden, an art and wine garden and community stages for local entertainment.

But back to the tamales — more than 200 vendors line the streets offering everything from traditional chicken, beef and pork fillings to sweet treats like sweet corn or cinnamon-filled tamales and fruit fillings like pineapple, strawberry and apple.

Hint: If you love tamales, bring a cooler to fill up to take home your favorites.

20th annual Walking Tour of the Inns and Annual Holiday Toy Drive

When: 4 to 8 p.m. Thu., Dec. 10

Where: Historic Palm Springs Tennis Club District

Information: walkingtouroftheinns.com

The Historic Palm Springs Tennis District is dotted with a collection of smaller inns that often come with a back story and character that you just can’t find in larger chain hotels.

For the past 19 years, many of them have thrown open their doors and invited the public to peek at the architecture and perhaps enjoy a cup of holiday cheer and property gossip, says David Shahriari, president of Small Hotels of Palm Springs, sponsor of the walk along with the Palm Springs Woman’s Club.

 Hotels welcoming walkers: The Moroccan-themed Korakia Pensione, Greek for raven, and a haven for stars and dignitaries since the 1930s; Casa Cody Inn, which was built in the 1920s for Buffalo Bill Cody’s cousin and Hollywood pioneer Harriet Cody; and midcentury inns like the Del Marcos Hotel, which was designed by William F. Cody (no relation!).

While it’s not required, walkers are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the Well of the Desert for its annual holiday dinner on Christmas Day.