The best Google Doodles ever

One of the best Google Doodles showing the Google logo in primary colours with cartoon hand dropping down to grab the second G
(Image credit: Google)

The best Google Doodles have been delighting and enlightening us for an incredible 25 years. Some of them have been fun, while others have raised awareness of historical figures, events and more.

The search giant's founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page surely didn't know what they were starting when they posted the first Google Doodle back in August 1998. It was merely a stick man intended as a novel out-of-office message to say that they'd gone to Burning Man. But it turned out to be a hit, and 25 years later the Google Doodle has become almost an institution with its own archive where you can go back to survey every design that's appeared above the Google search bar.

Google Doodles have evolved from simple logo tweaks to full-blown illustrations, animations and beyond. And Google is known for hidden treasure elsewhere, too. For more fun check out the best Google Easter Eggs and the lesser-known Google AR animals. But for now, we've selected the best Google Doodle designs created since 1998...

The best Google Doodles so far

01. Wubbo Ockels' 74th birthday

Dr. Wubbo Ockels was the Netherlands’ first citizen in space, and this Google Doodle celebrates his birthday. Renowned for his positive outlook on life, he was a champion of sustainable energy. We love the zero-gravity effect shown here as he gently undulates in space. And the moustache is pretty fun, too.

02. Carnaval de Barranquilla

Google Doodles:

This doodle, created in celebration of a Columbian carnival, features traditional masks and costumes (Image credit: Google)

The doodle's cheerful parade was created to celebrate Columbia's Carnaval de Barranquilla, an annual celebration of cultural heritage that stems from indigenous, African, and European traditions. Look out for the traditional masks and costumes amidst this character-filled, stylised illustration that's sure to raise a smile. 

03. The Great Wave of Kanagawa

Painting of a tempestuous sea

Hokusai's most famous painting is brilliantly integrated into the Google logo (Image credit: Google)

Google Doodles often combine iconic art with the Google logo in clever ways, and here’s one of the best examples. Celebrating the birthday of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, this Google Doodle from 2010 remixed his most famous painting, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, to beautiful effect.

04. Moscow Metro

Stylised representations of a Metro train, the Metro logo and the subway map

Vintage Russian posters were the inspiration for this Google Doodle, celebrating the 80th anniversary of Moscow's Metro (Image credit: Google)

One of the biggest surprises for first-time tourists in Moscow is that its Metro stations are sumptuously ornate: like a cross between a palace and a museum. This Google Doodle from 2015 gives you a taste of what’s in store, with an evocative illustration inspired by vintage Russian posters.

05. International Women’s Day 2017

Cartoon of a grandmother telling a story to a young girl

This inspiring Google Doodle highlights the pioneering work of 13 historical women (Image credit: Google)

In this Google Doodle a little girl’s grandmother tells her a bedtime story about her favourite heroines, from US journalist Ida Wells from Korean activist Lee Tai-young.

06. Birth of hip-hop

Google logo as graffiti letters on a brick wall

There's a ton of stuff going on in this multimedia Google Doodle celebrating the birth of hip-hop (Image credit: Google)

In 2017, Google celebrated hip-hop's 44th anniversary with an ambitious Google Doodle that included a custom logo by graffiti artist Cey Adams, interactive turntables on which you could mix samples from classic tracks, and a serving of hip-hop history, with an emphasis on its founding pioneers. 

07. Zaha Hadid

Cartoon of Zaha Hadid standing next to a modernistic building

An artful tribute to groundbreaking architect Zaha Hadid (Image credit: Google)

Born in Iraq in 1950, architect Zaha Hadid captured the world's attention and shattered stereotypes with her award-winning buildings. This Google Doodle from 2017  portrays her next to The Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, which draws on many elements of classic Islamic design. 

08. Georges Méliès

Cartoon of moustachioed man with an old style film camera, atop a vintage-styled Google logo

This VR Google Doodle is a fitting tribute to the French illusionist and film director (Image credit: Google)

In 2018, the first-ever virtual reality Google Doodle, a collaboration with Cinémathèque Française, paid tribute to Georges Méliès, the trailblazing French film director celebrated in the movie Hugo. You can enjoy the full 360-degree experience using Google’s Cardboard or Daydream VR viewers.

09. Virginia Woolf

Profile of Virginia Woolf inside a circle, surrounded by falling leaves

This minimalist illustration matches the style of Virginia Woolf's narrative style (Image credit: Google)

British author Virginia Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness style established her as both a great novelist and a feminist icon. This 2018 illustration by English illustrator Louise Pomeroy celebrates Woolf’s minimalist approach and incorporates falling leaves, a frequent visual theme in her work. 

10. The hole punch

A hole punch and a Google doodle made up of colourful circular paper cutting

This fun animation paid tribute to the hole punch on its 131st anniversary (Image credit: Google)

Google Doodles don’t just celebrate glamorous topics, but also the humble creations that have changed our lives in subtle ways. A perfect example is this fun animated doodle from 2017 paying tribute to the hole punch, an incredible feat of German engineering that deserves to be marvelled at.

11. Bach

Cartoon of Bach playing an organ

Compose your own melody with this AI-driven Google Doodle (Image credit: Google)

In March 2019, the world got its the first AI-powered Google Doodle in the form of an interactive experience, which allows you to compose a two measure melody of your choice. With the press of a button, the Doodle then uses machine learning to harmonise the custom melody into Bach’s signature music style.

12. Lygia Clark

Google logo in stylised 3D letters

This arty Google Doodle pays tribute to a Brazilian art legend (Image credit: Google)

Artist Lygia Clark was a Brazilian painter, sculptor and teacher who co-founded the Neo-Concrete movement, which sought to change art from a passive viewing experience to an engaging interaction. This captivating 3D Google Doodle from 2015 was a fitting tribute to this groundbreaking artist.

13. Sochi Olympics

Six figures playing different sports above each letter of 'Google', cast in a rainbow of colours

Google took a stand against Russia's anti-gay laws with this rainbow doodle

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi became the centre of worldwide protests against Russia's homophobic laws, and Google didn't sit on the fence. This rainbow-hued Google Doodle  made a simple but powerful statement, while the quote from the Olympic Charter below spelled out exactly where it stood.

14. Robert Moog's 78th birthday

Cartoon of a Moog synthesiser

Google loves to give its users something to play with from time to time

One of Google's best-loved interactive doodles celebrated the 78th birthday of Robert Moog, the man who created the eponymous synthesiser, in 2012. His creation featuring heavily in songs by The Beatles, The Doors and others, and this clever Google Doodle lets you try it yourself.

15. Jules Verne

Google logo redrawn as a window onto an ocean world

Dive under and celebrate the birthday of Jules Verne with this Google doodle

Google paid homage to sci-fi writer Jules Verne on what would have been his 183rd birthday, with this interactive Google Doodle in 2011. The logo showcases a view of the ocean from a submarine, inspired by his novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and you can explore it using the lever on the right.

16. Claude Debussy

Google doodle: Debussy

This magical animation gels beautifully with Debussy's Clair de Lune

Popularised by the movie Oceans 11, Clair de Lune is one of the most hauntingly beautiful piano suites of all time. This animated Google Doodle, celebrating the 151st anniversary of its composer in 2013, uses it as the soundtrack to a Parisian riverside scene, and it's quite magical.

17. Saul Bass's 93rd birthday

Google logo in primary colours with cartoon hand dropping down to grab the second G

Google's doodle pays animated tribute to the iconic work of Saul Bass (Image credit: Google)

8 May 2013 would have been graphic designer and filmmaker Saul Bass's 93rd birthday. Some of his best-known designs are cleverly recreated in an animated Google Doodle, which includes his work on Anatomy of a Murder, The Man with the Golden Arm, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

18. Freddie Mercury

In 2011, Queen guitarist Brian May collaborated with the Google Doodle team to pay tribute to his late friend and colleague Freddie Mercury. The result was this animated Google Doodle to celebrate Freddie's 65th birthday, accompanied by classic Queen track Don't Stop Me Now.

19. Charlie Chaplin

From one moustachioed hero to another. This Google Doodle paid tribute to silent film star Charlie Chaplin, with a video for what would have been his 122nd birthday. It shows a Chaplin lookalike read a Google newspaper, interact with a Google logo and try to draw a Google Doodle, in typically shambolic fashion.

20. 8-bit Winter Wonderland

Google Doodle featuring a skater traversing an ice rink

This winter wonderland celebrated the birth of Frank Zamboni

There's nothing like a Google Doodle that you can interact with, and this fun game is one of our faves. Dedicated to Frank Zamboni, the American inventor of the ice resurfacer, it features some pesky ice-skaters that create marks on the ice. It's your job to smooth things over, using the arrow keys. 

21. 150 years of the London Underground

London Underground map spelling out the word 'Google'

A design classic gets the Google Doodle makeover

London's Tube map, created by electric draughtsman Harry Beck in 1931, turned out to be one of the best design ideas in the world, and widely imitated everywhere. The design takes on a new form in this doodle, with 'Google' being spelt out within the rail lines. You need to look closely, but it is there!

22. Winsor McCay's Little Nemo

Colourful comic strip about a boy's adventures

Google's first interactive comic is a joy to behold

Little Nemo in Slumberland, a comic strip about a small boy's adventures, ran in the New York Herald from 1905-1911. This 2012 Google doodle celebrated artist Winsor McCay's 107th anniversary through an interactive comic strip. You click the tab at the end of each animated section to move on to the next part.

23. The Brothers Grimm

Two scenes showing a cartoon version of Red Riding Hood

Google told the story of Red Riding Hood through a series of 22 illustrations

Crafted to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the brothers Grimm, this Google Doodle from 2012 tells the tale of Red Riding Hood through 22 lovingly crafted flat-design illustrations. If you spend the time to click through them all, you're rewarded with an alternative ending to the classic story.

24. Halloween 2012

Cartoon of a spooky looking street

A fun Google Doodle for Halloween 

Halloween has seen many great offerings from Google, but it was this interactive Google Doodle from 2012 that we loved the most. With an eerie soundtrack, this fun animation features a spooky street, with a series of friendly monsters to discover behind each of the doors. Explore more Halloween Doodles, including the 2019 version in our dedicated Halloween Doodles post.

25. JFK 50th anniversary

Google logo and a drawing of JFK made up of lines from his speech

This typographical treat marked the anniversary of John F Kennedy's 1961 inauguration

In 2011, a special Google Doodle marked the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address, which included the famous line: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." The team took the words from Kennedy's speech and rearranged them to spell out the Google logo.

26. Will Eisner

Comic book version of the Google logo, with a masked man taking the place of the 'O'

This comic book-inspired doodle was created in memory of graphic artist Will Eisner

Graphic artist and comic writer Will Eisner is widely regarded as the father of the graphic novel. In 2011, this stylish Google doodle honoured what would have been his 94th birthday by combining a 3D comic-style rendering of the Google logo with Eisner's character The Spirit; a detective from beyond the grave.

27. Amelia Earhart

Illustration of Ameila Earhart sat on the side of an aircraft, with 'Google' printed on the wings

Google celebrated pioneering female pilot Ameila Earhart with this lovely illustration

In 2012, Google celebrate the life of pioneering female pilot Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, on what would have been her 115th birthday.  This illustrated Google Doodle depicted her standing on an aeroplane, with 'Google' subtly painted on the underside of the wings.

28. Les Paul

In 2011, to honour the late musician and inventor Les Paul, Google created this playable guitar as the day's Google Doodle. In just 48 hours, Americans used it to record 5.1 years worth of music (40 million songs), and those songs were played back 870,000 times. See it in action in the video above.

29. Robert Doisneau

Four black and white photographs overlaid with letters from the Google logo

A rare photo-led approach to the Google Doodle (Image credit: Google)

Most Google Doodles have been illustrated or animated, but here's a notable exception. To mark what would have been the 100th birthday of French photographer Robert Doisneau, this Google doodle features four of his famous images: The Tugboat, The Three Children, Dog on Wheels and The Kiss.

30. Gideon Sundbäck

It's not often Google makes you go 'wow', but here's a notable exception from 2012. Clicking the zipper on this special Google Doodle made the page split in two, revealing the doodle's inspiration: Gideon Sundbäck, the Swedish-American credited with developing the zipper. See it in action in the video above.

31. John Lennon

A short music video of Imagine to commemorate what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday, this interactive illustration was created by the Google Doodle team's Mike Dutton, who said: "I hope a moving picture will help me adequately – and simply – thank John for the memories." 

32. Live lunar eclipse

Google logo with the moon replacing the second 'o'

Google marked the lunar eclipse by documenting the event (almost) in real-time online

In 2011, an interactive Google Doodle represented the lunar eclipse in (almost) real-time. Astronomy website Slooh provided Google with images from cameras set up in South Africa, Dubai and the Canary Islands, and if you clicked on the slider underneath the Doodle, you could experience the eclipse in all its glory.

33. Martha Graham

Cartoon of five dancers

This dancing animation is utterly entrancing (Image credit: Google)

This animated Google Doodle is one of the most entrancing we've ever seen. Created to recognise what would have been the 117th birthday of American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, it features five dancing ladies who spell out the world 'Google' with their movements.

34. Pac-Man

Pac Man game screen

Google's first interactive logo celebrated Pac-Man back in 2010

Google unveiled its first interactive doodle in 2010 to mark the 30th anniversary of classic arcade game Pac-Man, remains one of its best. Based on the original game logic, graphics and sounds, and even original bugs from the 1980s masterpiece, it's still an addictive treat to this day.

35. The Wizard of Oz

Dororthy and friends walking toward Oz, with the Google letters overlaid across the landscape

This Wizard of Oz illustration incorporates the Google logo super-subtly

In 2010, 71 years after Wizard of Oz burst onto cinema screens, Google honoured the classic movie with this loving tribute. Using the landscape to subtly spell out the logo, it depicts Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Toto the dog as they first spot the Emerald City.

36. Lego

Google doodles

Lego's 50th anniversary was celebrated by the Google team with this awesome doodle

This cool Lego doodle was created to mark the little toy brick's 50th anniversary in 2008. Fun fact: Lego art has a special place in Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin's hearts: they used the bricks as the casing for 4GB hard disks, for a server they were making when they were developing the search engine.

39. The Gerald “Jerry” Lawson Google Doodle game

In December 2022, the Google Doodle honoured Jerry Lawson, one of the fathers of modern gaming, on what would have been his 82nd birthday. And rather than a simple doodle, it was practically an entire retro gaming system. As well as various 8-bit platformers and Pong-esque puzzlers, the Doodle dashboard features a level editor, which lets users design a game of their own.  The games were designed by three American guest artists and game designers: Davionne GoodenLauren Brown, and Momo Pixel. You can still play the game at the Google Doodle archive.

The history of the Google Doodle

The first Google doodle

The first Google doodle (Image credit: Google)

The first Google Doodle was posted on 27 August 1998 as a message to say that the team were going to be our of the office at Burning Man (just in case the system crashed.) But the idea was a hit, benefiting from the minimalism of the Google homepage.

An outside contractor took on the Google Doodle design brief until 2000, when Brin and Page asked PR guy Dennis Hwang to design a logo for Bastille Day. Since then, a team called 'Doodlers' have organised and published Google Doodles regularly.

Want to make your own Google Doodles? See our pick of the best graphic design software and the best Web design software.

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects. 

With contributions from