Last year, Milan was ranked among the top 25 world cities with the most powerful brands, according to the first Guardian Cities global survey. Its position in the list - above the likes of Tokyo, Berlin, and Beijing, owes much to a sturdy economy, its excellent shopping and fashion offerings and its range of cultural attractions.
We are currently partway through Expo Milano 2015, a global exposition expected to attract 20 million global visitors during its six-month programme. Following my recent visit, I'm happy to report that it's classic Italy - bold, expansive and brilliant. It also gave me the inspiration to consider what else the city has to offer. Often perceived as 'industrial'", and often snubbed as a holiday destination in favour of the likes of Florence, Rome and Venice, Milan seems happy to leave it this way. Understated in its appearance, but rich in culture and style, the city has an impressive line-up of events this year and next which set it apart as one of the most functional destinations the world has to offer.
No sooner than the MITO SettembreMusica - an international music festival featuring 2,500 musicians from 33 nations - ended, bow underway is Milan Fashion Week, another global industry event that has recently undergone a change in venue. Just as London Fashion Week moved to Soho this year in an effort to enhance its authenticity, the Milan event is being held downtown, in the Porta Nuova district of Italy's financial capital, for the first time. Often debated for redefining Milan's skyline, for better or worse, the district will host the event's headquarters and a number of chic pop-ups, including one that's caught my eye - a fashion hub market for young designers. This is another example of why Milan is a great place to visit at this time of year, avoiding the summer rush but never compromising on the cultural benefits.
Also underway are the 20th Milano International Film Festival Awards. In an age where everything somehow seems to be becoming more mainstream, these particular awards aim to encourage the progress of indie films from around the globe, with the competition designed to promote independent cinema only for films that have not yet been screened publicly. There is something very wholesome about the awards, and the city is rightly extremely proud of them.
So these are just some of the highlights currently lighting up the city, but what else have we got to look forward to? Well, a move that will certainly reinforce Milan's status as one of the fashion capitals of the world is the decision to launch a Westfield shopping centre in early 2016. Plans are already well underway for a complex that will span 230,000 square metres and feature 300 stores & 50 restaurants, just 20 minutes from the city centre. The people of Milan will be delighted to be the first part of mainland Europe that the property giant has chosen to expand into, following great success in the UK, US, and Australia. At Timebased, we have worked with Westfield as a client for events in both London and Derby, and it's likely that the Milanese will enjoy a similar extravagant launch to mark the opening of their own new retail landmark.
A personal highlight of the 2014/15 sporting calendar was the UEFA Champions Festival in Berlin back in June. With a combination of grassroots football and family activities, in the shadow of the spectacular Brandenburg Gate, it was a memorable occasion and one that meant all eyes were on the German capital. Football fans could hardly have asked for more, but even those with no interest in the sport were able to enjoy the spectacle. Next summer, it's the turn of Milan to host the Festival, with the Champions League Final to be played at the San Siro in May 2016. From children kicking a ball on the street with jumpers for goalposts, to the heated passion of two of the world's most historic football clubs, football is at the heart of the city, and so there's no better place for the pinnacle of European football to take place.
It's fair to say that Milan has its critics, but from my experience, there are few destinations that offer more in the way of culture and variety, making it the perfect stage for some of the world's most prestigious events.