Chinese Artist Cai Guo-Qiang Creates Stairway to Heaven Fireworks


A recent video of a fireworks display has gone viral. The stunning 80-second art installation, a towering ladder made of fireworks, reached 1,650 feet (500 meters) into the sky.

Created by Cai Guo-Qiang, Sky Ladder was showcased in June in Quanzhou City in China’s southeast Fujian Province. The firework and gunpowder studded wire ladder was carried up by a large weather balloon. Referred by some as a “stairway to heaven,” the project started off as a dream for Cai 21 years ago. His first attempt was in 1994 but it was never launched due to strong winds. Cai tried again in 2001 when Shanghai hosted the APEC Summit, but was restricted aerial access due to the September 11th attacks.

Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy

Sky Ladder
 is dedicated to Cai’s grandmother who just celebrated her 100th birthday. The beautiful fireworks show was a way Cai wanted to thank his grandmother for supporting his dream of being an artist.


The Chinese contemporary artist currently lives and works in New York City. Over the years, Cai has travelled the world to work on projects and exhibitions, many of them incorporating gunpowder and fireworks with various mediums. The pieces are incredible, inspiring both awe and suspense when it comes to working with explosives. Check out some of his other dazzling installations, including the opening and closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008:

Making of Gunpowder Drawings in Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant Da Vincis Brazil, 2013 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.
2008 Beijing Olympics (2008北京奧運會開閉幕式焰火) from Cai Studio on Vimeo.
Black Rainbow: Explosion Project for Valencia (黑彩虹:瓦倫西亞爆破計劃 ), Spain, 2005 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.
Inheritance: Exploding Jan Hoet’s Portrait (遺產:爆破楊 – 荷特肖像), S.M.A.K., Gent, 2003 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.
Transient Rainbow (移動彩虹), MoMA, New York, 2002 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cityscape Fireworks (APEC大型景觀焰火表演), Shanghai, 2001 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.

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