The weekend’s best in movies, music and nightlife:

Thursday: Chefs from the embassies of China, Norway, Afghanistan, South Africa and other countries battle it out Thursday night at the swanky Embassy Chef Challenge. Guests will sample international fare while judges, including the Post's Tim Carman and Hello Cupcake's Penny Karas, arrive upon a winner. Included in the $250 ticket is an open bar and food.

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day? Check out the family-friendly parade in Gaithersburg on Saturday (pictured above in 2012).  (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

Friday: As one of rap's greatest talents, Rakim could fill a venue like the Howard Theatre on the strength of his legendary flow. Slick Rick, on the other hand, typically spits his party anthems "La Di-Da-Di" and "Children's Story" at smaller club gigs. So consider Friday night's Rakim and Slick Rick double bill at the Howard Theatre a best-of-both-worlds pairing: Together, they should hit all the highs of '80s hip-hop, paying homage to both its fierceness and its gleeful fun in equal measure.

Friday: If you haven't noticed, Washington's underground comedy scene is buzzing. Led by burgeoning comics who are both youthful and a little unhinged, this traveling rodeo is making its voice heard in the back rooms of bars and art spaces, without the formality of a comedy club or the annoying table minimums. Get a good look at the scene on Friday night, when Consensual Text, a comedy night hosted by Andrew Bucket, takes over the Dunes in Columbia Heights.

Friday: After the fervor surrounding the film "Lincoln," it seems like the right time to revisit the relationship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, freed slave Elizabeth Keckley. The world premiere "Mary T & Lizzy K" begins its run Friday at Arena Stage, courtesy of writer-director Tazewell Thompson, a 2006 Emmy winner for directing the New York City Opera's "Porgy and Bess."

Saturday-Sunday: The official arrival of Nowruz, the Persian new year, is on March 20, but two area events are observing the holiday early: At the Freer and Sackler on Saturday, the Nowruz family day will feature dancing,  food, games, storytelling and a chance to see the much-anticipated exhibit "The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia." (Read more about the Cylinder here.) At Reston Town Center, Iranian-American actress Shohreh Asemi throws the second Nowruz festival on Sunday, with a Persian bazaar, DJs, dancing, and other performances.

Saturday-Sunday: After what has felt like a month of bar crawls and green beer, St. Patrick's Day finally arrives on Sunday. The annual D.C. St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off on Constitution Avenue NW at noon on Sunday with a host of bagpipers, bands and Irish dancers; end a more wholesome, family-centric day at the Kennedy Center, where the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance will dance a jig or two on the Millennium Stage at 6 p.m. In the 'burbs, Gaithersburg hosts its annual St. Paddy's Parade at Washingtonian Center on Saturday; the parade steps off at 10 a.m. with Celtic dancers, music and fire trucks.

Saturday: The year's Francophonie Cultural Festival, celebrating French DJ culture, is already underway, but Saturday night at Georgetown's Malmaison, the turntables belong to Isaac Delusion, a Parisian duo with the same breezy electro vibe as Telepopmusik and Phoenix.

Sunday: Old-school techno fans can get down on Sunday when U Street Music Hall concludes its third anniversary blowout week with drum and bass pioneer DJ Goldie.