This weekend at Audubon Zoo, the city's premiere Halloween event for kids, Boo at the Zoo, takes center stage, but the zoo is also thinking ahead to another holiday and in one month will unveil a major new event: Audubon Zoo Lights.

The event is scheduled to run on select nights from Nov. 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving, through Dec. 30.

Brenda Walkenhorst, director of education projects for the Audubon Nature Institute, gave a sneak preview of one aspect of the light display.

“This is a new family experience that New Orleans hasn’t seen yet. You’re going to see animals of a very special kind – life sized penguins, a giant peacock, all kinds of amazing animals you can come up close and take a picture with,” she said this week.

“Zoo Lights is going to be after hours so our real animals are going to be asleep but we are going to have hand-painted silk animals representing hundreds of species and they’ll be ranked just like they are in the zoo – swamp animals, African animals, animals from Central America, all beautifully designed, well-lit and great for photos.”

The event, which is sponsored by Children’s Hospital and WWL-TV, was inspired by the success of other family events such as Audubon’s long-running Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo, which Children's Hospital also sponsors.

For Zoo Lights, the entrance to the Uptown zoo will be decorated with huge, glowing metal Christmas ornaments welcoming visitors. Once guests enter, familiar sights like Goldring Plaza’s canopy of palm trees and the statues of elephants and other animals in the Cooper Plaza fountain will also be decorated. Another area will feature depictions of animals native to the North Pole and other freezing climates.

There will be nightly holiday entertainment, craft areas for children, photos with Santa Claus and food available for sale.

Audubon Zoo Lights will be open to the public for a $15 admission fee, which will be discounted to $10 for Audubon members.

Hours will be from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on select nights beginning Nov. 23. Tickets are now available for sale.

Also, WWL-TV will broadcast its Eyewitness Morning News live from the zoo on Nov. 16, offering a sneak peek of the festivities.