The increasingly multifaceted nature of event impacts makes them even more attractive as a potential solution to a range of urban and regional problems. As a result, competition to stage major cultural and sporting events is intensifying, and the cost of bidding is also rising. Given that such bidding processes only produce one winner, this means that a growing number of disappointed cities have to justify the costs of bidding for major events. In this context, we analyse the bidding process for the European Capital of Culture in the Netherlands (2018) and its impacts on local social structures. In particular the article focuses on the less tangible, non-economic effects of bidding for events, establishing a framework based on network formation, public support for the bidding process and social cohesion. The conclusions point to the key role of sociality and networking for events, which should therefore be developed throughout the bidding process for successful impacts, whether the event is won or not.