Fuelled by the influential work of urban guru Richard Florida, the European knowledge economy is seeing a rise of cities calling themselves 'creative cities'. In this paper we have a look at the concept of creative cities and offer a view on them beyond the hype. We understand 'creative cities' as competitive urban areas that combine both concentration, diversity, instability as well as a positive image. Examples of creative cities in history and recent best practice of two such urban areas in Europe (Øresund and Manchester) show that local governments cannot plan knowledge, creativity and innovation from scratch. We conclude, however, that local governments can increase the chance that urban creativity emerges by providing the appropriate framework conditions.