Ways to discover the spirit of the season through nature, music, community, and giving back.
There are many nuances to the season that can be discovered with a pause.
Grace Farms offers an opportunity to pause during the holidays, to reflect upon the season, to come together – to enjoy family and friends, and to help those in need in meaningful and immediate ways.
This pause begins with our 80 acres of natural landscape. The expansive views of meadows and woodlands, combined with the softer and waning light this time of year, creates space for introspection. This reflection is carried throughout our River building, where natural light flows through more than 200 floor-to-ceiling glass panels, allowing for 360-degree views of changing perspectives.
Grace Farms is also a place that facilitates outcomes in pursuit of our five initiatives, with partners, and the community. During these months, the River building becomes an active space that offers opportunities to give and support those in need throughout our communities.
We start our Season of Light during the Thanksgiving Day weekend, where multi-generational families and friends can explore our native environment, share a meal together in the Commons, enjoy the seasonal music performed by local musicians in the Sanctuary, or participate in our traditional Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament.
The Thanksgiving weekend also signals the start of our giving season. While in the Library, take a moment and select an ornamental card from the Grace Farms Giving Tree. Gifts are collected through our partner Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants. Your generosity will help resettled refugees and trafficking survivors in Connecticut.
Our annual Gifting for Good has become a festive tradition for many, where family and friends can contribute to the season of giving by assembling winter care packages of essential items for families and individuals in need. Our collaboration with community partners make the Season of Light possible. Walter E. Luckett, Jr. Foundation, a youth development organization, will help distribute the care packages. A portion of the packages has already been designated for Yerwood Center at The Boys and Girls Club in Stamford.
As night falls, subtle white lights illuminate trees and the landscape. In the Plaza, fruit trees absent of apples, pears, and leaves, become a center-point of seasonal lights. Viewed from afar, these lights will perhaps remind us to pause and consider the light of the season.
We hope our Season of Light provides meaning, peace, and joy to your holiday season.
Explore Our Season of Giving at Grace Farms
Grace Farms is free to the public and open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am-6 pm; Sunday from 12 pm-6 pm. Please check our website for closures for special events.
Experience moments of peace and tranquility with improvisational arrangements of seasonal music performed by local musicians. The series is performed in our Sanctuary, an indoor amphitheater with a commanding view of the River building and acres of meadows, woods, and natural landscape.
Registration is free.
10:00 am-6:00 pm, Tuesday – Saturday, Sunday 12 pm-6 pm | Giving Tree in the Library
Surprise a recently settled refugee child or trafficking survivor with a unique gift. Visit our Library and pick a card from the Giving Tree. All gifts must be delivered back to Grace Farms by December 17. No wrapping required.
1:00 pm-4:00 pm | Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament, 11-29
Register for our traditional Thanksgiving Tournament, where teens, college students, and adults, participate in tournament playoffs, ending in a game between the final teams. While the teams compete against each other, watch from the Court’s mezzanine, a glass-enclosed space that overlooks the subterranean Court, with expansive views of our natural landscape.
The Tournament is open to 12 teams; advance registration is required.
Throughout the year, there are on-going activities in the Court for people of all ages and abilities, including pick-up basketball, pickleball, volleyball, and other sports.
Participate in a New Canaan tradition by joining Grace Farms Foundation, Pura Vida, and our local high school club to make holiday mailbox decorations. Make your own decoration in exchange for a suggested donation that benefits Pura Vida, which helps raise awareness for the hungry, orphaned, abandoned, or trafficked children. Your support will help pay for meals the organization distributes to starving children. Pura Vida’s volunteers have packed and shipped close to 2 million meals to date.
6:30 pm-8:30 pm | Gifting for Good 12-13
Join us for our traditional evening of gift-making for local families and children. Together we will assemble winter care packages of essential items. While engaging in the spirit of the season, enjoy music and games as we wrap gifts, write cards, and create crafts to support others during this season.
Please consider donating towards the cost of a completed box.
Adults = $10.00 each
Child = $5.00 each
Family (up to 5 people) = $20.00
On-going Activities | Grace Farms
10:30 am-12:30 pm | Growing Community Series 12-7
While hands-on gardening is coming to an end, the winter is a perfect time to look back over the season and to prepare for next year’s spring season. Master Gardener Nick Mancini will provide an overview of the season and talk about ways to prepare for the next one.
Registration is free.
10:30 am-2:30 pm | Open Arts Studio for Families (every Saturday, except in December)
Young artists (3-10) will have an opportunity to explore our permanent artworks, including Olafur Eliasson’s Mat(s) for multidimensional prayers. In this facilitated program, artists can explore line, shape, color, texture, sound, space, light, movement, and rhythm.
The materials fee is $5 per participant, payable by credit card at the West Barn Welcome Center. Guardians are required to stay with their children.
Participants can register online through our GraceFarms.org calendar.
10:30 am–12:00 pm | Grace Farms Tours, every Thursday & Saturday
Each season offers a changing perspective at Grace Farms. These tours allow participants to explore the River building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, while experiencing the changes of the season. Registration is required and tours can accommodate up to 18.
Registration is $25.
8:00 pm–9:30 pm | Astronomy at Grace Farms, Winter Full Moon 12-12
Traditionally, this moon has been called the “Full Cold Moon.” New Canaan High School Planetarium Director Tim Haag and Grace Farms Foundation Nature Initiative Director Mark Fowler will discuss aspects of this moon and then journey outside to explore the Winter Full Moon. Registration if free; telescopes will be available.
6:00 pm-7:30 pm | Community Dinners (third Friday of the month)
Enjoy a community dining experience in our River building’s Commons—a 6,900 square foot glass space. The fostering of community and conversations naturally occurs along our 18-foot-long communal tables that are made from red oak harvested on our site. In the Commons is a site-specific artwork by Teresita Fernandez, Double Glass River. The artworks consists of 10,000 hand-silvered glass cubes. During the winter months, take a moment to view the 10,000 points of reflected light from the Commons – perhaps another reminder of how to consider the lights of the season . After dinner, there are events related to our five initiatives of nature, arts, justice, community, and faith.
Advance registration is required for the Community Dinner through our GraceFarms.org calendar.
Smoking and drinking are not permitted at Grace Farms.
Our Partner and Other Local Giving Events
Our work at Grace Farms is accelerated by multidisciplinary collaborations and partnerships. Our Community Initiative provides support for not-for-profits on the front lines of service by offering free access to our space through grants and providing unique programming throughout the year. During this time of year, many of our partners and not-for-profits are in need of volunteers.
Below are highlights of how you could help our partners, space grantees, as well as other organizations contributing to the Season of Light:
Food Rescue US (a GFF partner) | One in seven Americans is food insecure. This organization rescues would-be wasted food and delivers it to our food insecure neighbors. There is an ongoing need for volunteers to pick up and deliver food.
Building One Community (Space Grantee and GFF partner) | Building One Community is a welcoming point of entry for newcomers from around the world. The organization aims to educate, employ and empower program participants, engaging the whole community in those efforts. This organization is currently accepting donations of men’s coats, gloves, and hats.
Bridgeport Rescue Mission| The Mission provides food, shelter, clothing, education, job training, and counseling for the urban poor and those who suffer from addiction. Volunteers are needed in a variety of areas including meal service and food pantry assistance.
Person-to-Person | This organization exists to help people in times of need, whether in the form of financial assistance, food and clothing, or household necessities. Volunteers are needed to help with its annual Toy Store event, Dec. 11-14. The Holiday Toy Store is where families can select a free toy for their children. It takes over 500 volunteers and $60,000 worth of donated toys to make this event a success.
Operation Hope | Operation Hope’s programs are designed to help people solve their immediate crises and build stability. Throughout the year, and especially during the holidays, volunteers are needed to assist in a variety of areas, including help in preparing meals for the Community Kitchen.