This study investigates the impacts of the London 2012 Olympic Games and their related cultural programme on local small creative organisations in East London. It contributes to unpacking the elusive concept of legacy through an in-depth analysis of creative organisations’ stories and experiences, combined with an analysis of policy documents and interviews with key informants, over a four-year period (2010-2014). A range of potential impacts of mega-events for creative organisations are identified and systematically discussed. The results highlight a gap between Olympic rhetoric and local reality. Problems include inadequate local consultation, barriers to accessing opportunities and inability to leverage effectively. The study also explores the role of cultural tourism in delivering an Olympic legacy for the local creative industry. It finds that opportunities to showcase deprived – but creative – areas in East London, and foster the development of creative forms of tourism, were missed.