As It Happens

This island in Norway wants to become the world's 1st 'time-free' zone

Kjell Hveding wants to stop time — at least on the small Norwegian island he calls home.

On Sommaroy, the sun doesn't set between May 18 and July 26

People leave their watches behind on the bridge as they arrive on the Norwegian island of Sommaroy. (Submitted by Kjell Hveding)
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Kjell Hveding wants to stop time — at least on the small Norwegian island he calls home.

The 56-year-old human resources worker is leading the charge to have Sommaroy — where the sun doesn't set between May 18 and July 26 — officially declared a "time-free zone."

"When the government are discussing the new law about wintertime or summertime or moving the clock, we are still laughing up here, because it doesn't matter," Hveding told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"Up here north of the Arctic Circle is totally different life."

Hveding gathered about 100 signatures from the town's approximately 300 residents and handed the petition off to MP Kent Gudmundsen last week.

He thinks its beneficial for the community to have more flexibility in setting their work and school hours. Also, he hopes tourists who come to the island can forget about the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. 

In fact, when visitors arrive in Sommaroy, they are immediately greeted with a bridge covered in watches that people leave behind.

"You can take it and say, 'I will make a commitment that I will spend my time better,' because time is the most valued thing we could spend," Hveding said. 

"We will try to get more and more people to understand that you don't need the clock on your arm 70 per cent of the day and night."

Kjell Hveding does some daytime — or possibly nighttime — kayaking in Sommaroy. (Submitted by Kjell Hveding )

During the summer in Sommaroy, Hveding says it's common for kids to stay out all night.

"We have young people who ... are out with the boats almost every evening, every night, when the rest of Europe is in darkness," he said. 

It's also not unusual for people do to late-night handywork. 

"Here, it's perfect to paint the houses in the night. It's perfect also to go kayaking and walk or sitting in the neighbour's garden and have a good chat and don't ever think of the clock," he said.

"People say, 'When do you sleep?' Then I say, 'We sleep when we are tired."

Kids play outside all night in Sommaroy, Norway. (Submitted by Kjell Hveding )

Of course, there are certain logistical necessities to time. 

"We will not be fanatic," Hveding said. "We will be diplomatic."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Produced by Katie Geleff. 

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