Santa knows his route has hit Southern California when the kiddos leave him plates of gingerbread, milk, and plump, savory tamales. This weekend, over 100,000 pilgrims will pay homage to the holiday’s spiciest treat by swarming Indio for the 15th annual Tamale Festival—an extravaganza that stuffs visitors as full of deliciousness as if they themselves were soft corn husks padded with pork, peppers and pineapple, before it unleashes them on an arcade of Tilt-A-Whirls and moon bounces. Four music stages inspire you to samba and cumbia away the caloric overload, a definite plus for the groaningly happy winner (and also-rans) of the daily tamale devouring contest. Three months ago, competitive eater Tim Janus gobbled up a record-breaking 51 tamales in 12 minutes. Better ready your bellies—and your stretch pants. (Amy Nicholson)
The 15th Annual Tamale Festival, between Highway 111 and Indio Blvd., Indio; www.tamalefestival.net. Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free.