The article explores the bidding process for the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) award, an aspect of local regeneration policy reliant upon a specific conception of culture. The process is examined in terms of changes in urban layout, manifestations of cultural and community identity, media representations, and the spectacle of culture, gender, and locality. The process is viewed as an urban managerialist project, driven by private and public sector elites in pursuit of economic rather than cultural goals. A narrow and particular view of culture was employed in the bidding process to achieve essentially managerial goals, and cut adrift from significant issues of gender, identity, and class. “Culture,” as conceived within the ECOC process, is viewed as a policy product of local government, regeneration partnerships, government agencies, and business interests, in contrast to culture as a way of life or lived urban experience. As an elite process, the voices of local culture were largely excluded.