Milan already celebrating Champions League final

City comes alive in run-up to Saturday’s match.

Milan isn’t waiting for Saturday to celebrate the face-off between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the S. Siro stadium.

The city’s central Piazza del Duomo is already attracting throngs to see the “big-ears” cup on exhibition until Saturday afternoon and shoot “selfies”, while other events are taking place in the zone between the cathedral and the Castello Sforzesco – the Walk of Champions.

The programme of organised attractions – the Champions Festival – takes off at 10.00 on Thursday and will continue until 17.00 on Sunday afternoon.

Singers including the Italian Gospel Choir, Lea Rue, Dhamm, Prime Circle, Shelly Bonet, Francesco Rossi and Benny Benassi and DJ sets are alternating throughout the day and evening, in free concerts in the piazza. Meanwhile in nearby Via Mercanti, the colours of all the 32 teams in the League and their sponsors are on display. There is even a barber skilled in reproducing some of the more extravagant hair styles worn by famous players.

A soccer field has been set up in the castle grounds, and will alternate between hosting match-related events starring world-class players and being open to the public for less professional games. On Friday at 16.00 the field will be the stage for the Ultimate Champions Match with legendary players including Women’s Champions League star Patrizia Panico competing in five-a-side format, entry free.

The field will also host free training clinics for aspiring champions of all ages.

At Expo Gate next to the castle, the Champions Gallery photo exhibit will recount the history of the League, and explain how profits have been ploughed back into the development, promotion and protection of the game in Europe.

Fan zones will open on Saturday to host supporters and provide live maxi-screen coverage for those unlucky enough to be without tickets to the Meazza (as the S. Siro grounds are officially known). Atletico fans will gather in Piazza Duca d’Aosta in front of the central station, and Real supporters in the Pagano car park at a 3.5-km walk from the stadium.

Meanwhile, over a hundred street artists from around the country have completed Europe’s longest, colourful thematic mural on the walls surrounding the stadium and the surrounding streets, at the invitation of Milan city hall.

City authorities advise that the ZTL limited traffic zone around the stadium will be closed to all but residents from 00.01 on Saturday until 04.00 on Sunday morning, in view of the massive crowds expected for the match. A few streets will become one-way to help the traffic flow out of the zone.