This is the fun, frivolous time of winter when Carnevale comes to Venice, Mardi Gras to New Orleans, and Carnival to Rio de Janeiro. These famous celebrations may not be associated with the best behavior—indeed, the spirit of the season encourages the opposite: Up is down, bad is good, and all rules that generally govern civil society can be thrown out the window.

For sophisticated travelers, however, there are a few oases of chic amid all the hyperbolic hedonism. You just need to know where to look. (And if a last-minute jaunt to one of the world’s most impressive masked balls or pageantry-filled parades isn’t in the cards for you this year, it’s not too early to book for 2016.)