BRONX, NY (PIX11) — The Bronx Zoo will be transformed into a holiday wonderland when the annual “Holiday Lights” display opens November 18th.

The fully outdoor experience brings the park to life in the evenings, in a sense-stimulating light spectacle. The beloved tradition returned in 2019 and each year it’s grown significantly. Astor Court is the site of a color-changing light show synchronized to seasonal music, thrilling visitors of all ages. Walk through the zoo and you can’t help but feel the holiday spirit.

Kevin Franqui has been with the Bronx Zoo for over 20 years. He is currently the associate director of the Rides Department. “It certainly takes a village,” said Franqui. “All the departments here at WCS [Wildlife Conservation Society] come together to make sure we have a beautiful light show.”

Planning starts early in the year. The behind-the-scenes installation begins in August and then, things really pick up as soon as the Halloween-themed “Boo at the Zoo” ends. Franqui himself designed a festively lit tunnel he walked us through.

“This tunnel is made up of over 4,000 pixel lights,” said Franqui. “We can put up all different types of displays to it, including geometric shapes, spirals, things like that. We light up each bulb individually to make the patterns and shapes that we want.”

This year, there are six trails, filled with 360 wildlife-themed lanterns. The animal-shaped lanterns are constructed with steel frames wrapped in silk, and lighting in the interior. Seventy of the lanterns are brand new and each of the trails depicts a scene from a geographic region of the world.

“Every year, we get bigger and bigger,” said Franqui. “This year, we’ve added elements to our Astor Court show, and also added a number of lanterns to our trails. It becomes part of the New York experience. It’s one of those places that you just can’t miss.”

At the heart of it, the zoo wants adults and children alike to learn about wildlife, nature and conservation through this enchanting light display in the spirit of the holiday season. “We do it for the people who come here,” said Franqui. “The first person that stands here and says, ‘Wow,’ that’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m doing it.”

Adding to the majesty of these lights, there are additional features like stilt walkers, carolers, train rides and so much more. There will be an opening ceremony to “flip the switch” Tuesday evening. The Bronx Zoo’s “Holiday Lights” will open to the public on Nov. 18th on select days, and run through Jan. 8, 2023.