The article presents a critical analysis of the reception and ramifications of creativity policies in the city of Amsterdam. The point is not to revisit critiques of creative cities policies per se, but rather to trace their consequences for the politics of urban governance — in one of their more receptive, if not ‘natural’, settings. The article explores how creativity policies actually work (and for whom) from the vantage point of one of Europe's most celebrated ‘creative cities’. It seeks to explain the persistence of the creativity syndrome — and the longevity, ubiquity and adaptability of the associated policy package — in the face of both social-scientific skepticism and mediocre ‘performance’. Finally, it raises the question of how, and with what effects, creativity policies travel between cities; how they mutate in interurban space.